Book Excerpt – Mass Deception (Volume 1)


Mass Deception (Volume 1)
by Hallema

    Publication Date:
    List Price: $15.95
    Format: Paperback, 272 pages
    Classification: Fiction
    ISBN13: 9780974690902
    Imprint: Mahogany Publishing
    Publisher: Mahogany Publishing
    Parent Company: Mahogany Publishing
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    Copyright © 2003 Mahogany Publishing/Hallema No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission from the publisher or author. The format of this excerpt has been modified for presentation here.

    Chill bumps appear out of nowhere when I think about that particular period of my life. The memory still haunts me to this day. I’d just arrived back in Atlanta after living in Paris for two years. It was cold outside and I was standing in front of Peachtree plaza in downtown Atlanta jet lagged and exhausted. I remember looking around and thinking about how much the city had changed during my absence. Even though I’d only been there once when I was in high school. The buildings seemed taller than I recalled and there was a hell of a lot more traffic than I remembered. As I was walking up to the counter to check into the hotel, I spotted a 6’9’’ 280 pound brother headed my way. His mustache and beard combination gave him a mysterious look; to say I was intrigued would be an understatement. He strolled over to me moving with the grace of a leopard. When he spoke to me Barry White’s voice came out of his mouth.

    ’Hello pretty lady, my name is Robert. I don’t ordinarily walk up to women in hotels and introduce myself. But the moment I stepped off of the elevator I spotted you standing here. You are absolutely stunning. I hope you will forgive me for being so forward but I couldn’t help myself.’

    ’No forgiveness needed Robert. My name is Toni, and I liked your introduction.’

    ’Again, I hope I am not being too forward but would you have dinner with me tomorrow night? That is, if, your husband wouldn’t mind.’ <

    ’I see somebody has been reading his players handbook. What page is that move on 196?’

    ’I am not trying to run a game on you. I would like to take you to dinner.  What’s bad about that?’

    ’Nothing, it was the comment about my husband that killed your rap.’

    ’I wasn’t trying to rap to you either. I am trying to make sure there isn’t going to be an angry husband coming after me for flirting with his wife.’

    ’Then you should have asked me if I was married.’

    ’My bad. Toni are you married?’

    ’No.’

    ’Then would you do me the honor of joining me for dinner tomorrow night?’

    ’I would love to. Are you staying in the hotel as well?’

    ’Yes, I am in room 316.’

    ’I am not sure of my room number yet. Let me finish checking in and when I know it, I will call you.’ <

    ’That sounds fair enough. I’ll get out of your way now and let you handle your business. I’ll see you tomorrow.’

    ’What time is dinner?’

    Seven o’clock.’

    ’Perfect. I’ll see you then.’

    ***

    The next day I woke up and called Robert to give him my room number. We reconfirmed our dinner plans. I would be dressed and ready to go by seven o’clock. Our reservations were at Surin of Thailand. I spent the whole day unwinding and relaxing. I was still a little jet lagged from the flight. My interview with the ad agency wasn’t until Thursday so I had two days to rest. The day seemed to fly by. In fact once my massage was over I had just enough time to jump in the shower and be ready to go by seven o’clock.  <

     At seven o’ clock sharp I heard a knock on the door. It was Robert. He was right on time and impeccably dressed. That big fine man had on a long thirteen button down taupe colored suit. His tie was cr’me with taupe accents. His hands were perfectly manicured and his brown shoes were shining. That brotha looked good! I felt like my outfit came from Wal-mart. The minute he said ’Good evening, Toni’ my panties got moist.  I was undeniably overly attracted to this man.

    ’You look lovely, pretty lady.’

    ’Thank you, you don’t look too bad yourself.’

    ’Thanks. Are you ready to go.’

    ’Yes, I am starving.’

    ’If you like Thai food then you are going to love this restaurant.’

    ’I love Thai food. I have heard good things about Surin of Thailand and I am looking forward to trying it.’

    In the car, we began the getting to know you process.

    ’So Toni, what do you do?’

    ’I just got back from doing a stint in Paris. I am interviewing with an ad agency here on Thursday.’

    ’What were you doing in Paris?’

    ’I worked with high fashion models and top designers. Basically, I was learning the industry.’

    ’How long were you over there?

    ’Two years.’

    ’That’s a long time. Weren’t you home sick?’

    ’At times, but once I got use to it I was fine.’ <

    ’What company are you interviewing with in Atlanta?’

    ’Mademoiselle.’

    ’Are you nervous?’

    ’A little.’

    ’Then tonight, I am going to do everything I can to make you relax and have a good time.’

    ’Wonderful.’

    While we were at dinner, Robert told me all about his business. He is the CEO of his own company, Baskin Technology Inc. I’d heard of it. They had been recently traded on the NYSE. From what I read they were doing very well.  <

    Robert talked to me about everything from ballet to world peace. He was well spoken and had a diverse background. Dinner seemed to fly by. The conversation was so good that I can barely recall the taste of my food.  By the time dessert came, I knew more about Robert then I did about most of my friends. He was twenty-eight, and a divorced father of two. His children names are Malik who is 13, and Zo’ is 5. They both had different mothers. Malik was the result Robert’s first sexual encounter, which made him a dad at the age of 15. Zo’ was a product of his marriage. He’d been married for six years to his college sweetheart. According to him they divorced because they stopped being each other’s friend. Now they are just parents. He had sole custody of Malik because Malik’s mother died of sickle cell when he was two years old.  He shared joint custody of Zo’ with her mother. Being a good father was one of his passions. From what I could tell he was doing a good job at it.

                                                    <

    ***

    ’Robert dinner was delicious!’

    ’Good I am glad you liked it. Are you ready to go back to the hotel or do you feel up to hanging out for a while’

    ’I think I could hang. What do you have in mind?’

    ’I heard there is this new poetry set in Buckhead. It’s supposed to be like the club in the movie Love Jones. I was thinking that we could swing by and check it out.’

    ’I love poetry, let’s go.’

    Upon entering the club we heard the host introducing the next poet. <

    ’Give it up for Ms. Ebony Jackson.’

    ’Thank you everybody. Tonight I am going to do an original piece I wrote entitled ’Their Lying Asses,’ and it goes a little something like this. <

    Speaking the King’s English and opening doors

    Tell me somethin’. Why you always frontin’ in front of your boys?

    Taking three days to call— trying to have sex on the first date

    Thank God I didn’t make that mistake!

    Coming to my dinner table to get fed

    Questioning me about why I don’t give head

    Telling me lies about how you plan to marry

    Well I ain’t Meg Ryan and this ain’t When Harry met Sally<

    Constantly plotting to get the kitty cat

    Chances are if I gave you the opportunity you couldn’t hit it with a bat

    Trifling is an understatement

    Playa keep trying

    I think I speak for all my sistahs when I say brothas please stop lying

    Trying to impress me with things you don’t posses

    Brotha why don’t you just confess

    Leading an invisible life, always on the phone

    As soon as I turn my back you calling Tyrone

    Buying fake diamonds passing them off as gems

    Sitting on the third pew singing all those hymns

    The bible says, ’he who findeth a wife findeth a good thing’

    Brotha you didn’t even buy me a real diamond ring

    You knew right then you were being under handed

    Now you claiming it’s all a misunderstanding

    Get a grip— stop trippin’

    No sistah worth her salt would pay you any attention

    We’re smarter than you think so you might as well stop fakin’

    If you think you’re fooling somebody then you’re sadly mistakin’

    In case you haven’t figured it out yet

    This poem wasn’t written for the masses  <

    It’s strictly for those phony, frontin’ brothas with Their Lying Asses!

    The crowd erupted in applause and snaps from the ladies.  Ms. Ebony took a bow and left the stage. Robert and I must have been thinking the same thing this is a little too much for a first date. He looked at me and I looked at him and we left the building.

    ’On second thought, Robert, I think I better call it a night.’

    ’Yes, I think you’re right.’

    On the drive back to the hotel we listened to Luther sing ’A House is Not a Home.’ Again my panties got moist as I sat their inhaling Robert’s cologne and wondering what his hands would feel like against my skin.

    Before we got to my room door Robert swung me around in the middle of the hallway and kissed me deeply. I was speechless. He caressed my back until his hands landed on my hips. Then he pulled away.

    ’Toni, I apologize I don’t know what came over me.’

    ’I guess it was the same thing that came over me.’

    ’I am embarrassed.’

    ’Don’t be. I am as attracted to you as you are to me.’

    ’So what do we do about that?’

    ’I don’t know Robert what do you suggest?’

    ’I suggest you give me a half an hour and meet me in my room.’

    ’I am not sure that’s a good idea.’

    ’Why not?’

    ’Because a lady should not be in a gentleman’s room at this time of night.’

    ’Then I’ll come to your room in a half an hour but it will ruin the surprise.’

    ’Now that’s not fair. I’m a sucker for a good surprise. you’re playing hard ball with a sistah.’

    ’So what’s it going to be? My room or yours?’

    ’You got me. I’ll come to your room.’

    ’Thirty minutes.’

    ’Yes, thirty minutes.’

    Robert kissed me and disappeared down the hallway. I went into my room to freshen up and grab a few condoms, just in case. I knocked on Roberts door at midnight, which was exactly thirty minutes from the time he left. As the door opened I saw the golden glimmer of candlelight.  The fragrance coming from his room was clean and tropical. The music was low and mellow. What looked like one hundred helium balloons filled the air and multi-colored rose petals covered the bed. Robert stood their shirtless watching the expression on my face. I was in awe of his body and him. I had no idea how he did any of that in thirty minutes. Robert’s chest was smooth and glistening; he had obviously freshened up too.  All I could see in the candlelight was dark silky looking skin. He didn’t have any chest hair. Actually, the only hair I saw on his body was the little happy trail that was slightly peaking from underneath his silk drawstring pants. I felt like I was having an out of body experience. <

    Surprise!’ he said in that Barry White voice of his.

    ’Yes, I am surprised.’

    ’How do you like it?’

    ’I love it. How did you do this?’

    ’I can’t tell you. Let’s just say I know people.’

    ’Apparently. Thank you for going through all of this trouble for me.’

    ’It was no trouble at all. Toni, may I kiss you?’

    ’I thought you would never ask.’

    Robert grabbed me and unzipped the back of my dress in one quick motion. It was obvious to me he had done this before. Then he swept me up into his arms and gently placed my naked body on top of the rose garden that used to be his bed. The petals felt cool and soft against my warm flesh.  I felt little tremors in my spine as I anticipated his next move.

     Robert stood there for a moment scanning my body like a metal detector the only difference was he was using his eyes. I sat up and gently tugged at the string on his pants and watched them as they fell to the floor. He stood there looking deep into my eyes. I surveyed his body to see what his package looked like. When I got to his penis I knew he could be a dildo model. I had a mini orgasm just looking at it. Robert knelt down to kiss me with his soft wet lips and I laid back down. He slid gently on top of me and started sucking and nibbling on every inch of my body. He stroked my inner thighs like the strings on a guitar. <

     I could feel his warm breath working its way down toward my newly formed clit. I was nervous.  Would he be able to tell the difference? Am I going to be exposed right, here right now? Those thoughts threatened to ruin my evening. I had to fight to keep them out of my head. I wanted that man in the worst kind of way and I refuse to lay there and sabotage myself with feelings of fear and insecurity. The tension was mounting and I decided to let it. He made his way to my clit and sucked that baby like a pacifier! Then he licked it layer by layer, back and forth, his tongue darted in and out, and my body shook. I experienced the greatest sensation of my life as I came uncontrollably. Oh my God!  The operation was a success, I thought. <

    ***

    Before my surgery the doctors told me that there was a 50/50 chance that I would no longer have sensation down there. In fact, while I was in Paris one of the other girl who had her operation done before me committed suicide. She’d had her penis removed and tried having vaginal sex with a man and she couldn’t feel anything. Her suicide note read: ’Life is no longer worth living if I can’t fully enjoy all of the benefits of being a woman.’  That incident scared all of us. A few of the girls changed their minds and decided to keep their penises, but I went through with my transformation. I stepped out on faith.  <

    Tonight I can officially proclaim mission accomplished.

                                                    <

    ***

    Robert and I made love until the wee hours of the morning. We did it from the front, the back, the side and all those spots in between.  Thank God I used to have a big dick. Because if I didn’t there would have been no way for him to fit inside of me. Unfortunately, one of the drawbacks to having a sex change is that the hole in your new vagina is only as big as your dick was as a man. Therefore, if I had a five-inch dick as a man my hole as a woman would not accommodate anything over five inches. Only natural woman have vaginal walls that can expand and contract. Therefore, if you get a man that is bigger then you were, sorry Charlie you’re out of luck. It’s a major disadvantage because you’re constantly playing a guessing game. Fortunately for me, I guessed right this time.  Everything checked out a-okay.

    ***

    That night with Robert was the night I discovered I was one hundred percent woman. He made me feel like I was the most desirable person on earth. I went to my job interview glowing. They made me an offer right on the spot. I accepted and asked for a start date a month later. I needed time to get use to being back in the States. I had to pack mama up and move us to Atlanta.  <

    Robert and I continued to see each other for the rest of my stay in Atlanta. We both finished up our business around the same time. On our last night together, I decided to tell him who I used to be. He had already assured me that I was the only woman for him and that our relationship would continue even after we both left Atlanta. I waited until we finished making love to make my confession.

     

    I laid my head on his chest and stroked his abs. ’Robert, I need to share something with you.’ <

    ’Go ahead, baby, you know you can tell me anything.’ <

    That’s what he said. But, that is certainly not what he meant. <

    I proceeded to tell Robert about how I always had this feeling deep down inside of me that I was born to be somebody else; that my mother named me Tony for a reason. <

    ’I’m sorry baby, but I am not following you,’ he said.

     I know I must have been rambling on and on. My nervousness was getting the better of me. Finally I just blurted it out. ’Robert, I used to be a man!’

     His eyes darkened for a moment then he laughed.

     ’Oh, you almost had me, Toni,’ he chuckled. ’Now quit playing and tell me what’s on your mind.’ <

    ’I am not playing, Robert, I wish I were.’ <

    The smile faded off of his face. The rage in his eyes reappeared and I started to tremble. He got up from the bed and moved away from me. He searched the floor for his boxers and put them on. Then he turned around and looked at me like a raging bull. His brow was furrowed, his eyes were red and his fists were clinched. Without a word he swung at me and knocked me to the floor. <

    ’What kind of sick ass game are you trying to play with me, Toni?’ He asked in a scolding tone of voice. <

    ’I am not trying to play games with you,’ I cried. ’I wasn’t the one who approached you. You came up to me in the lobby remember.’ He hit me again. This time blood came pouring out of my mouth.

     ’I ought to kill your punk-ass,’ he shouted with spit flying everywhere.

     In that very moment I was terrified but I was also angry. I don’t know where it came from but the testosterone in me must have kicked back in. My knees were shaking but I gathered myself up off the floor and looked him in the eye and said. ’Look mutha-fucker I am not your God damn punching bag! Now just because your ass is feeling like a straight up sissy right now that does not give you the right to hit me.’ That’s when he hit me for the final time and knocked my ass unconscious. I woke up in Grady hospital. My mother was standing by my bedside when my eyes opened. She said I had been in ICU for three days. I had a concussion, a couple of broken ribs, and stitches in my lip.   <

    ’What happened to the guy who did this,’ I asked?

    ’The mugger got away, sweetheart.’

    ’What mugger, mama?’

    ’The mugger that robbed you in the alley.’

    ’What alley? What are you talking about?’

    ’Toni, I got a call from the City of Atlanta Police Department telling me that you had been mugged and that you were unconscious.’

    ’Mugged?’

    ’Yes. I caught the first flight I could and came straight to the hospital.’

    ’What day is it mama?’

    ’It’s Tuesday sweetheart, why?’

    ’Then that means he is long gone by now.’

    ’Who, Toni?’

    ’The guy who did this to me.’

    ’What guy? The mugger.’

    ’No, mama I wasn’t mugged.’

    ’What do you mean you weren’t mugged?’

    ’I was beaten up in my hotel room.’

    ’Then how come the police found you in the alley?’

    ’He must have put me there.’

    ’Who?’

    ’Robert.’

    ’Who is Robert? Toni are you sure you’re feeling okay?’

    ’Yes, I’m sure. Robert is a guy I met at the hotel.’

    ’You mean the one who took you out to dinner?’

    ’Yes, that’s the one.’

    ’Are you saying he did this to you?’

    ’That’s exactly what I’m saying.’

    ’But why baby? Why would he do a thing like this? I thought you two were hitting it off.’

    ’We were until I told him.’

    ’Told him what?’ Mama paused.  Then you could almost see the light bulb come on in Mama’s head. Oh, Toni you told him!’

    ’Yes, I felt so comfortable with him that I thought I could be honest and tell him. I didn’t think it would matter to him since he had gotten to know me. He said he was falling in love with me mama. I thought I could trust him.’    <

    ’Oh, baby, I’m sorry.’ Mama took me in her arms and held me close while I cried.

     ’Mama, we can’t let him get away with this.’

    ’No, we can’t sweetheart. Do you have any information on him?’

    ’I have all of his information. We exchanged telephone numbers and addresses before this all happened. His business card is in my purse.’ <

    Mama grabbed my purse pulled out Robert’s business card and read it. ’Baskin Technology Inc. Robert Baskin, CEO. You mean to tell me this fool is the CEO.’

    ’Yep, can you believe it? He has two kids too mama.’

    ’He has two kids, is a CEO and he goes around beating up women. Oh, yeah, we are definitely going to make him pay.’

    ’Mama did the doctor say when I would be released?’

    ’He said he couldn’t tell me until you woke up. He needed to run another C.A.T. scan.’

    ’We need to get him in here.’ Mama pressed the button for the nurse and told them to alert the doctor of my newly conscious status. The doctor came rushing in to examine me.

    ’Ms. Goodwin, you are a lucky woman. Thank God someone found you in that alley and called 911. You could have died. Do you remember what happened?’ Mama looked at me and shook her hand. I looked at the doctor and said no.

    ’What does the police report say doctor?’

    ’It says that a gentleman by the name of Baskin found you passed out in the alley. He told the police he thought you had been mugged.’

    ’Was he there when the police came?’

    ’No, he called in the report and told the police he had a flight to catch.’

    ’Did he leave his information? I would like to send him a thank you note.’

    ’I am not sure but I do have the officer’s card who wrote the report you can give him a call and find out.’

    ’I will. Doctor, when are you going to release me?’

    ’I have you scheduled for a C.A.T. scan at one o’clock. If everything looks good you should be able to go home tomorrow.’

    ’Will I be okay to fly?’

    ’No, I don’t recommend flying. You need to stay put for at least a week.’

    ’Okay thank you doctor.’ I might not be able travel but mama and I have enough connections to make Robert’s life a living hell.  They say payback is a bitch, and right about now so am I!<

    As soon as the doctor left the room mama and I started working on our plan. In order for us to pull off our plan Mama had to come out of retirement. Most people don’t know this but Mama worked for the FBI as an executive assistant for many years. She knows computers and how to use high tech equipment like nobody’s business. Quiet as it’s kept, Mama dated her boss for years and let’s just say she learned a lot from pillow talk.   <

    We called the police station to find out if they had any information on Robert. They had the same info we already had. <

    At 1 o’clock I went in for my C.A.T. scan and everything was fine. The hospital released me the next day. We checked into a new hotel and started making calls. By six o’clock that evening the plan was set. Since I couldn’t fly mama booked a round trip ticket for herself to Dallas. She called our cousin Junior and told him we needed his help. She filled him in on everything that happened and the two of them formulated their course of action from there.  Mama left on the five am flight to Dallas. Junior was scheduled to meet her at seven.   <

    When mama saw Junior, he was far bigger then either of us recalled. He hugged mama and said, ’Let’s go do this.’  At eight o’clock mama and Junior were sitting outside of Baskin Technology waiting for Robert to arrive. I was talking to them by cell phone. I described Robert perfectly. I didn’t want them to mistake anyone else for him. Robert arrived around eight thirty. Junior sat there and studied him.  He watched his every move, he scoped out the car he drove. He had a friend of his run the license plates on it. My friend Ralph ran a credit report for me. We found out everything there was to know about Robert Baskin.  We even knew where his children went to school.

    Mama and Junior rented a suite across the street from Robert’s office.  Mama went and applied for a job as a cleaning lady in his building. We needed a way to gain entry into his offices. They followed Robert around for three days. They wanted to study his habits and learn his pattern. He drops his daughter off to school at eight o’clock in the morning. Then he goes through the drive thru at Dunkin Donuts to get coffee and a bagel.  He arrives at his office at eight-thirty. His day is spent working and running his business. He usually has his lunch delivered. Then he leaves work at five o’clock to pick his daughter up and take her home. He even prepares dinner for the kids while they do their homework. From the outside looking in he is a perfect gentleman and father. I almost felt guilty about what we were going to do to him.  <

    On day four it was time to put our plan into action. Mama had gotten the job so she had access to Robert’s office.  All of our background investigations were complete. We now had access to all of Robert’s bank accounts, credit cards, and even his cell phone access code. You name it we had it. Junior managed to call the school and impersonate Robert.  He told them that a good friend of his named Linda would pick up Zo’ at 4:30. The school told him they would have her ready to go but that they had to call him back at the number they had on file to verify it was him. Junior had already anticipated that move and was able to intercept Robert’s calls. The school called back, and Junior answered. <

    Mama called Robert’s office and said she was the nurse at Martin Junior High School she informed Robert that Malik was sick and needed to be picked up immediately.  When Robert left the building, Junior set off the fire alarm. As everyone vacated the building Mama ran into Robert’s office and downloaded all of his files and then deleted them from his system. For extra insurance, she put a virus on all of his machines.  She broke into his safe and stole all of his backup files and recovery disk. Then she left him a note. The note read: ’How does it feel?’ <

    Mama left the building while everyone was coming back in. She changed clothes, jumped in the rental car and headed over to the school to pick up Zo’. She recognized her from the outfit she saw her wearing that morning. She walked up to Zo’ and her teacher like she knew them.

    ’Hello I’m Linda, I came to pick up Zo’.’

    ’Hi Linda I am Mrs. Gibson, we have been expecting you.’

    ’Oh good, Robert did get a chance to call you.’

    ’Yes, he sure did. Is everything alright?’

    ’Yes, everything is fine he had to pick Malik up today and was afraid he wouldn’t make it here on time so he asked me to help him out.’

    ’Oh, I see. Okay Zo’ I’ll see you tomorrow. It was a pleasure to meet you Linda.’

    ’Likewise.’ Mama took Zo’ by the hand and walked her to the car.

    ’Zo’,’ mama said as she stooped down to look her in the eye. ’My name is Linda, I am a friend of your daddy’s. I am going to take you to get some ice cream and then I’ll take you home. Is that okay.’

    ’Yes Ma’am. Zo’ said. ’Linda,’ Zo’ said as she surveyed her surroundings.

    ’Yes, Zo’.’

    ’Why do you have all of that stuff in your backseat?’

    ’Because I make movies.’

    ’For real?’

    ’Yes, Zo’ for real.’

    ’Can I be in one of your movies, Linda?’

    ’Sure. As a matter of fact I am getting ready to make a movie with a little girl who is just about your age. Do you want to read her part while I film you?’

    ’Yes!’ Zo’ screamed jumping up and down and clapping her hands.

    Linda pulled over and stopped the car in a secluded area.  She got out and set up the scene. <

    ’Here Zo’ put this on.’ She handed Zo’, a torn and stained dress similar to the one she was wearing.

    ’What’s this?’  Zo’ asked referring to the ketchup stain that looked like blood?

    ’Oh, that’s nothing. You have to look like a little girl who has been kidnapped and abused. So you have to look really sad. Do you think you can do that?’

    ’Yep. I can do it.’

    ’Okay when I say action you have to start crying and saying daddy I’m scared please come get me, please come get me. You got it?’

    ’Got it.’

    ’Action.’ <

    Zo’ went into action. She played her role better then mama could have imagined. She was a natural.  Mama even messed her hair up and took one of her shoes off to make it look real. When they finished Zo’ was overjoyed with her work. Mama took Zo’ to get some ice cream. Meanwhile Robert made it out to the school to pick up Malik only to find out that Malik was at football practice and feeling fine. Robert scratched his head as if he knew something wasn’t right.

    He raced over to Zo’s school to pick her up but luck was not on his side. There was an accident on the 213 Expressway and he was stuck in gridlock. By the time he got to Zo’s school it was six o’clock and everyone was gone for the day. Robert began to panic. He had no idea where his daughter was. He picked up the cell phone to call her mother but hung up when he heard her voicemail message reminding callers that she was on a seven-day cruise to the Caribbean.       <

    Just as he was about to head home to see if Zo’ caught a ride with the teacher his phone rang. <

    How does it feel?’ The voice on the other end asked.

    ’Who is this?’

    How does it feel?’ The voice asked again.

    ’How does what feel?’ <

    How does it feel to lose control of your life?’

    ’I haven’t lost control of anything. Who is this?’

    ’Oh, so you think you haven’t lost control. Then you haven’t been to your office.’

    Robert did a 180-degree turn in the middle of the road and raced back downtown toward his office. He completely forgot about Zo’ for a moment. The voice on the other end had him caught up. Robert jumped out of his car and ran up thirteen flights of stairs to his office. To find his screensaver had been changed. In bold red letters the words YOU HAVE BEEN INFECTED scrolled across the black screen. Robert searched his system only to find nothing there but a virus. All of his company files were gone including his client roster. He went to his safe to retrieve his back up disk. The only thing in his safe was a note the read: ’How does it feel?’

    He screamed in frustration and knocked everything off his desk. His stapler flew across the room and broke the antique mirror hanging on his wall. One of his client files flew up in the air and each sheet of paper out of the file floated to ground covering it. He ran back down stairs and jumped in his car.  His cell phone rang again. <

    ’Are you still in control?’ The voice asked. <

    Fuck you!’ He yelled. ’Who is this? Why are you doing this?’

    ’Because I want to know how does it feel?’ The voice said

    His anger penetrated the phone. ’Okay I’ll play your little game you fucking asshole! It feels fucked up is that what you want to hear?’

    Robert where is Zo’?’ The voice asked calmly.

    ’Home.’

    ’Are you sure about that?’

    ’Look man, I don’t know who you are or what you want; but if you hurt a single hair on my little girls head I will hunt you down like a dog and kill you my damn self!!!’

    ’Now Robert do you really think you are in a position to make threats? Remember you are not in control. Don’t you think you should stop and get some gas? Your fuel light is on.’

    Robert looked at his gas gauge. He was nervous now. The fuel like was on. He pulled into the Shell station and got out of the car looking over his shoulder. <

     

    ’I wouldn’t use my credit card if I were you.’ The voice said

    Fuck you!’ Robert yelled and threw the phone down on the floor of the car. <

    He put his platinum American Express Card in the machine and it instructed him to go inside and see the cashier. Once inside the cashier swiped his card and it came up stolen. <

    ’Sorry sir but this card was reported stolen I am going to have to keep it.’

    ’What are you talking about? I am the owner of the card here is my ID.’ Robert said.

    ’I’m sorry sir I am just doing what I’m told. You might want to call your credit card company to straighten this out. However if you have cash or another card I’ll be happy to take them.  Robert had fifty dollars on him. <

    ’Give me twenty dollars on pump seven.’ He said as he slapped the twenty down on the counter and stormed out of the store. Robert pumped his gas and got back in the car to head home. His phone rang.

    ’Listen, mutha-fucker, I am not in the mood to play games with you!’ The voice on the other end interrupted.

    ’Okay, dad, I guess we can shoot hoops another time.’

    ’Malik, I’m sorry I didn’t know it was you.’

    ’Is something wrong dad?’

    ’No, nothing for you to worry about. Where are you?’

    ’I’m just leaving practice. I am headed home.’ <

    ’Do me a favor, don’t go home. Can you go to Jamal’s house and hang out until I come pick you up?’

    ’Sure, but is something wrong dad?’

    ’Malik! Just do it!’

    ’Okay, okay, my bad.’

    ’I don’t mean to yell, son, but today has been very stressful for me.’

    ’It’s cool dad. Later.’

    Robert hung up the phone and punched the steering wheel with his fist causing his knuckles to crack.  Then he got on the 213 south bound and headed to his house. As he drove home he replayed the events of the last few hours over in his mind. Someone was definitely fucking with him. But why? <

    Robert sped into the driveway unaware of his skid marks as he ran into the house. No one was there, but it was obvious that someone had been. Robert walked into his daughter’s room to find a videotape and note lying on her bed. The note read: ’If you want to see your daughter again, play me.’ Robert put the videotape in and sat on his daughter’s bed. Zo’ appeared on the screen looking bruised and frightened.  Zo’ cried, ’Daddy, I’m scared please come get me, please come get me.’ Then the tape faded to black. Robert put his head in his heads and wept.

    Ring, Ring.

     Robert jumped to answer the phone.

    How does it feel?’ The voice asked. <

    ’It feels fucked up! How do you expect it to feel? Who are you? Why are you doing this? Where is my little girl?’

    ’One question at a time pretty boy.’ The voice responded

    ’What do you want from me? Just tell me and give me my little girl back damn it!’ Robert yelled in frustration.

    ’I want you to suffer.’ The voice hissed.

    ’Why?’

    ’Because you made me suffer asshole!’ The voice shouted.

    ’When?’

    ’That’s not important. This is what you need to do if you want to see your daughter alive again. You need to go down to the old YMCA building on 3rd and Blanding. Be there by 7PM. I’ll call you when you get there for further instruction.’

    ’But that’s fifteen minutes from now.’

    ’Then I suggest you drive like your life depends on it.’

    Robert hung up the phone grabbed his cell phone and his keys and raced over to the Y. As soon as he pulled up his phone rang. <

     ’I see you made it,’ the voice said.

    ’Now what? Is my little girl inside there?’

    ’Get out of the car go inside and take off all of your clothes.’

    ’For what?’

    ’Do it or Zo’ dies!’ The voice shouted and hung up the phone.

    Robert heard Zo’s voice again saying, ’Daddy, please I’m scared.’ This time her voice was coming out of the building.

    ’Okay, I’m doing it just don’t hurt her,’ he pleaded.

    Robert went inside the abandoned building and took off all of his clothes. There was a note and a blindfold lying on the floor. The note read: ’Put me on.’ Robert put the blindfold on and stood there. That’s when Junior and his boys came out of nowhere and beat Robert down. They kicked and punched him. One of them stomped him in the ribs and said, ’This is for my cousin.’ Those were the last words Robert remembered hearing before he passed out. While he was lying there naked Junior, had his friend tattoo I love boys on one of Robert’s butt cheeks and I hit women on the other one. They turned him over and put a wig and lipstick on him and took lots of pictures of Robert in compromising positions.  Then they put him into the car and drove off.

    Linda and Zo’ spent their day eating ice cream and playing in the park. Linda dropped Zo’ off and waited to tuck her into bed. While Zo’ bathed and got ready for bed Linda went into action. She hid a Nanny Cam in Zo’s room and two microscopic cameras and microphones in the rest of the house. One of them was in Robert’s room of course. Then she sat outside in the car until she saw Malik walk inside the house. Then she left right on schedule.  <

    Around eleven o’clock Junior and his crew dropped Robert and his car off at home. Robert came to about midnight. The sight of his naked body startled him.

     

    ’Why do I have on a wig and lipstick?’ He mumbled as he snatched the wig off. Then he moved. ’Ouch! Somebody beat my ass!  Oh my God Zo’! He shouted as he jumped out of the car trying to run into the house.

    When he got in the house both Malik and Zo’ were sound asleep in their beds. Robert breathed a sigh of relief and went to his room to take a shower. A note and a video were taped to his bathroom mirror. By now he knew the routine. He put the tape in the VCR and pressed play. His mouth dropped open at the sight of his naked body with his face in a man’s lap. He instantly vomited. Robert jumped up and ran to the bathroom and started scrubbing his body and brushing his teeth. He felt sick. Once his stomach settled down he began to dry off in the mirror. That’s when he noticed his butt. As he backed up closer toward the mirror he could read the tattoo. He vomited again. Then he fell on his bed and passed out. <

    ***

    ’Daddy wake up.’ We heard Zo’ say as she stood in the doorway to Robert’s room. <

    Robert jumped up at the sound of Zo’s voice. ’Hi baby, come and give daddy a hug,’ he said.

    Zo’ entered the room giggling. ’You don’t have on any clothes daddy,’ she said pointing and laughing.

    Robert looked down and threw the comforter across his body. <

    ’Oh Zo’ you’re so silly,’ he said tickling her.

    ’How was your day yesterday, daddy?’

    ’Very busy.’ He lied.

    ’That’s what Linda said.’

    ’Who is Linda?’

    ’Your friend that you sent to pick me up silly’

    ’Oh yeah, Linda. So what did the two of you do?’

    ’We made a videotape and she took me to get ice cream and then we went to the park and played on the swings.’

    Really, it sounds like you had fun.’

    ’I did. Linda said I am a good actress too.’

    ’Well how would she know that?’

    ’Because when we made the video she had me act like I was crying and begging you to come get me.’

    Aw hell she is a good actress, he thought.

    ’So how did you get home?’

    ’Linda dropped me off. She stayed with me until she heard Malik pull up.’

    ’Where is Malik?’

    ’In the shower.’

    ’I guess I better get in the shower too or we are going to be late Zo’.

    Go and fix yourself some cereal I’ll be in there in a few minutes.’

    ’Okay, daddy.’ Zo’ said as she skipped out of the room and down the hallway.

    Robert took a shower and started replaying the events of the previous day in his head. He was starting to piece things together, but he was still unclear as to who was doing this to him. But he was certainly glad that his family was all right.

    ’Malik!’

    ’Yeah, dad?’ <

    ’Would you come here for a minute son?’

    ’Hey dad, good morning.’

    ’Good morning, Malik, how did you get home last night?’

    ’Dad, don’t you remember. You called Jamal’s mom and asked her if she could drop me off.’

    ’I did? Oh yeah that’s right, I did call her.’ Robert snapped his finger pretending like he just remembered.

    ’Dad are you sure you’re all right? You have been acting strangely since yesterday.’

    ’Yeah, son, I’m fine. I have just been under a lot of pressure at work that’s all. Go ahead and finish getting ready for school. I’ll be out in a minute.’

    ’Okay. Dad try to take it easy.’

    ’I will, I owe you a game of hoops this weekend.’

    ’Cool.’

    Damn somebody has been doing a good job of impersonating me. I know damn well I didn’t call the school and release Zo’ to no lady named Linda. And I know I didn’t call Jamal’s mama and ask her to drop Malik off last night because I was too busy getting my ass kicked. Speaking of ass, what the hell is up with these tattoos on mine? I have got to get this shit removed.

    ***

    Robert got dressed for work and did his morning routine. He dropped Zo’ off, went by Dunkin Donuts and arrived at his office by eight-thirty.

    ’Good morning Cindy.’

    ’Good morning, Mr. Baskin, A package came for you.’

    Robert stopped dead in his tracks. ’Where is it?’

    ’I placed it on your desk.’

    ’Thank you, Cindy.’

    ’you’re welcome.’

    Robert entered his office cautiously. He looked at the package and then locked his door. ’God, please don’t let this be a bomb,’ he prayed.

    Robert opened the package and pictures fell out. They were of his butt cheeks. The note read: ’There are plenty more where these came from.’

    ’Why, God? Why is someone doing this to me,’ he asked? <

    Then he sat there and studied the pictures. I like boys, woman beater, this is for my cousin, he repeated over and over in his head. Just as the phone rung he shouted, ’Toni!’

    ’Yes, Robert, it’s Toni, and I want to know one thing.’ <

    ’What’s that?’

    How does it feel?’

    ’You fucking bitch! Why are you doing this to me?’

    ’Oh, did you think you could break a few of my ribs, give me a concussion and make me miss out on three days of my life, and get away with it? You must be out of your damn mind! You don’t know who you’re messing with.’

    ’Toni, I’ll kill you!’

    ’Oh yeah, look out the window. You see the fella sitting on the bus bench reading the newspaper; he has a gun aimed at you. Look on top of the hotel across the street you see the sniper on the roof? And let’s not forget Linda is sitting outside of Zo’s school.’

    ’What do you want from me, Toni?’

    ’I want an apology, then I want you to deposit $350,000 in an account I have set up at your bank. It’s for all of the pain and suffering you caused me.  All you have to do is call the bank and transfer the money. I linked an additional account to your current bank account so it will look like you are just moving your own money around.’

    ’How did you manage to do that?’

     ’Let’s just say, I know people.’

    ’Then what?’

    ’Then I want you to go to the post office on King Boulevard. There will be a package waiting for you. Follow the instructions inside.’ Toni said and hung up.

    ’Shit, Shit, Shit!’ Robert screamed.

    ’Mr. Baskin, are you all right?’ Cindy buzzed

    ’Yes, I’m fine Cindy. I am just letting off a little steam.’

    ’Do you want me to get you something?’

    ’No that won’t be necessary, just cancel all of my appointments for today and hold all of my calls.’

    ’Consider it done sir.’

    ’Thanks, Cindy.’

    Robert sat there for a while gathering his thoughts. Then he grabbed his car keys and headed for the post office. <

    ***

    ’Next!’ The clerk yelled.  ’May I help you sir?’

    ’Yes, there is supposed to be a package here for Mr. Robert Baskin.’

    ’Do you have the yellow claim form?

    ’No, I wasn’t told I needed one.’

    ’Wait just a minute sir, I’ll go in the back and check.’

    ’Today must be your lucky day, I have your package right here and you don’t need a claim check. Here you are sir have a nice day.’

    ’Thank you.’ Robert said and left the building.  <

    Where should I go to open this? He thought. Oh I’ll go home, the kids are not out of school for a couple of hours. I’ll have some privacy.<

    Robert raced home feeling nervous. After what he’d experienced in the last 24 hours he didn’t know what to expect. He pulled his car into the garage and carried the package very carefully. Then he closed all of the blinds just in case somebody was watching him. <

    ’I wonder what’s in here. Well, Robert, it’s only one way to find out.’ He said to himself ’so stop being a punk and open it.’ <

    Robert opened the package very gently.  Once again there was a note and videotape. Robert inserted the video and pressed play.  At first he didn’t understand why or how someone was videotaping his daily activities. Then he saw his children going about their day-to-day lives. Next his daughter was on the video saying, ’Daddy please save me, I’m scared!’ Finally he saw himself getting beat down and tattooed. Then the tape faded to black and he heard the same voice that had been calling him say. ’How does it feel to know that your life can be changed in an instant?’ Another voice added, ’How does it feel to know that someone has touched your little girl?’ A third voice asked,  ’How does it feel to get your ass kicked by someone stronger then you?’ The last voice was the original caller and she asked ’How does it feel to get knocked unconscious and then robbed of your dignity?’

    Robert was stunned. He just sat there thinking about what the voices said to him. Then he thought about what he did to Toni. Damn this is all so fucked up, he thought. <

    ***

    Some men have a need to be in control all of the time. For Robert his need to be in control was based on all of the many responsibilities he had. The mere thought of doing something that wasn’t ’manly’ threatened to crush the very foundation that his life was built upon. Most straight men are homophobic, so much so that they aren’t comfortable in the presence of gay men. I guess for Robert the thought of being ’tricked’ into sleeping with a transsexual was more than his male ego could take. I am sure that’s why he brutally beat me.  However, his calling 911 let me know he still had a shred of human decency in him. That’s why I decided to teach him a mild lesson rather then having him straight up hurt.  I even wrote him a letter explaining why I did what I did to him.

                My Dearest Robert,

    How unfortunate for us that we had to end this way. We had such a great time together.  I trusted you. I know you felt betrayed. But I hope you believe me when I say that was never my intent. I am not a malicious person. Nor am I out to hurt anyone. I know you must hate me on some level but I am sure you still love me on a much deeper level. I just want to be Toni with an I, and not a Y. I hope you can understand that. If not, maybe in time you will. Please know that Zo’ was in the best of care during her time with Linda. She has no idea what she was a part of and neither does Malik. So if you continue to act like nothing ever happened then in their minds nothing did happen.

    We have reactivated your credit cards so you can feel free to use them without suffering any embarrassment. The moment you deposit the money into the dummy account we have set up you will receive a package. Inside of it will be the instructions on how to get rid of the virus we put on your computers. Also you will find all of your computer files and your client roster. Basically you can return to your normal life.

    I have kept a copy of everything including the pictures and the videotape just in case you’re stupid enough to try to have me arrested or create some kind of revenge plot of your own. Don’t be a fool Robert. This was a very mild lesson. Let’s just call it even and go on with our lives. You have two very beautiful children to raise and I have a new career ahead of me. I think we should both move on. Take care of yourself and know that I will never forget you.

    Toni

    ***

    Robert followed my instructions down to the last detail. Mama got back on the plane and flew to Atlanta. We divided the money amongst all us. Me, mama and Junior each got $100,000. We divided the other $50,000 amongst the fellas that helped us pull this off. Everybody returned back to there normal lives as if none of it ever happened.  Mama and me flew back to Tallahassee to pack up and move to Atlanta just in time for me to start my new job.  <


    Read Mahogany Publishing’s description of Mass Deception (Volume 1).