In the street-lit genre, mainstream recognition isn't often the barometer for success, but for Relentless Aaron, a 'hood staple, that may be next. Propelled by his success on the streets - he's sold more than 200,000 books on his website, street corners, subways and prison-bound buses, he says - Aaron landed a deal with St. Martin's Press, which will likely deliver him a much wider readership.
By 2006, Aaron, a 41-year-old Westchester County native born DeWitt Gilmore, has self-published 11 books on his Relentless content imprint, drawing attention and accolades from unlikely places. His first release on St. Martin's, Extra Marital Affairs, was released in September, with more on the way. Like all of Aaron's books, Extra Marital Affairs employs plenty of raw language and extreme drama, and it works.
Continue reading this story in the December â€˜06/January '07 issue of KING (#38)
AN EXCERPT FROM RELENTLESS AARON'S LATEST BOOK, EXTRA MARITAL AFFAIRS
ADENA HAD BEEN very lucky to find a man like Mason; a hard working, dedicated, faithful man who, like her, left the big city for some peace, some quiet, and some comfort. They stumbled upon one another at the local K-Mart in East Stroudsburg where he had come for some fresh draws and she, for some emergency sanitary napkins,. To say the least, Adena was in a hurry, and more or less cut Mason off in route to the cashier.
The store wasn't busy at all, so a cashier nearby announced,
"I'm open over here.â€
Mason excused the rude woman, at least in his mind, and he sidestepped to register 4.
"How are you today,â€ asked the cashier in that extra cheerful tone.
"Hummm,â€ replied Mason, up in the air between a sour and sweet response, "I guess I'll be alright,â€ he finally answered, cutting an eye over towards register 3. He had to admit the woman was cute, despite her actions. Maybe there's a reason for her rush, he told himself. And that was the end of it. So blind towards drama was he that very little could flip his switch nowadays. Those days were gone now, part of his out with the old (underwear), in with the new. And since it had only been a day that he set foot in PA, dramas and arguments were not his focus; to make a living and to live comfortably was. So much of that stuff was the past, now; his brother, Bobby, and the mob he ran with, were all in jail nowâ€”long sentencesâ€”for nearly collapsing the financial well-being of Philadelphia. It was a place that middle class blacks were calling home more and more, especially with all those ads that ran in the big city newspapers in New York; all of them luring new residents into the rural way of life, promising them "peace and tranquility for no money down.â€ Mason's mother, Mrs. Zanobia Fickle, was heartbroken about the arrest and conviction of Bobby. But it was the sentencing of her son and the judge's wordsâ€” Natural Life behind barsâ€”that sent Momma Fickle into massive heart failure. She was an intensive care patient for just 3 days before she finally passed on.
So with no more family for love and laughter, and with a community of onlookers more or less ready to lay the entire Fickle tragedy on Mason's shoulders, he was left no other choice. He drove eastward until the atmosphere was rural enough to keep out that city mentality, but resourceful enough so that he could hold a job and have access within the same 24-hour day. And when he recognized the K-Mart, the Wal-Mart and the Arby's brand names had invested here, it was evidence enough that he could be a worthwhile asset; a contribution to the community he lived in. After all, wasn't that life? To give and take? To work hard and to reap the rewards of your labors? So Mason made Blue Mountain, a community just outside of Marshall's Creek, his new home. Mason's accounting knowledge and background would be respected anywhere, he was certain, since he had invested 8 years into the profession. He had references, a 4-year college education, and he had that element of common sense to lean on.
And just as he expected, Mason easily landed a job in nearby Allentown. His 1st position was at PNC Bank as a teller. However, he was quickly promoted to a top teller position, delegating responsibility and keeping watch over 12 other tellers. This, he did for almost 24 months until the office job came alongâ€”account executive for East Stroudsburg Mutual, that Fortune 2000 company which maintained insurance for some 40,000 people throughout the country. It was about this time, (more than 2 years since that rude interlude at K-Mart) that Mason met Adena formally, the two of them sitting side by side at Brownie's a restaurant in the heart of downtown East Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania.
Adena and Mason exchanged glances, but it was her glance that said: I know you from somewhere. Mason snickered to himself, as if he could read her mind, but even more when he recalled the exact play-by-play action and how this woman nearly ran him over once upon a time. Feeling successful and confident these days, Mason didn't mind speaking up first.
"It was at the K-Mart,â€ he revealed.
"We met beforeâ€”orâ€¦we ran into each other, I should say. "Into each other.â€ Mason, the politician.
"Oh?â€ Her response pushed him to take it a step further.
"Mmm hmm. And, you almost ran me over. But I think you were in a rush.
"Oh.. I.. I'm sorryâ€
"Oh please. Don't mention it. I didn't know my ass from my toe, anyway. Especially in those days. My name is Mason.â€
"Adena,â€ she said as they shook hands.
"Yeah. The type of name that'll get a girl a position at McDonalds or a supermarket, but not in any real paying job.
Mason didn't evaluate things enough before now, but he quickly realize the woman was burying herself into a thick milkshake and a strawberry shortcake.
"I'm â€¦.I'm sorry to hear that. I don't see why you'd have a problem. Not if your looks mattered anyway. "What do you do best? What's your profession?â€
"Hmmm, I could easily tell you what I do best. But since you asked, I don't have any particular profession. Never did college. Spent my young life with a no-good asshole who got me pregnant and left town.â€
"Oh, you have a child. Okay, so you're a mother. That's a kind of proâ€”â€
"No, I'm not a mother. I lost the baby, I got my tubes tied, and now I'm a mother- fucker.â€
Mason heard her carry on, But all he was hearing over and above her troubles was I have low self-esteem. I expect little of myself. Blah, Blah, Blah. Blah. Blah.
Once again, Mason explained, "I'm sorry. I know life ain't easy. But I learned long ago that you have to get on your grind early in life to be prepared for anything.
"Oh, don't get it twisted, Mistaâ€˜. I'm on my grind. I know how to get paper. Plus I got my own place, my little bank account, and I drive a Lexus. I've had men from here to Albuquerque bendin' over backwards for a piece of me, even if I don't spread my legs.â€ Mason swung around to see if anyone was in on their conversation, how raw it had gotten in so little time.
"I feel ya,â€ is all he could say in response. By the time his chicken Cesar salad had half disappeared, Adena asked "So what's a good lookin' man like you doin' sittin at a lunch counter in, of all places, East Stroudsburg?â€
"Thanks for the compliment. You're not a bad catch yourself. Ahhâ€¦ I was meeting with a client; the bank across the street. This just happened to be the nearest restaurant that's not Mexican or Irish or Kosher.â€
"Or Kosherâ€¦ you're funny.â€
Mason laughed along with Adena, suddenly appreciating how fast she caught onto things. And it was at that moment that he looked closerâ€”the absence of a mustache; the hair swept back into a neat ponytail that hooked to the side. And there was a fragrance he couldn't be sure of. Not to mention, Adena's lips were full of energy and a smile that emerged every so often. Her body could use a few cross-country runs, but it wasn't far from those lanky cheerleaders that Mason once gawked at during a Sixers game. Plus, the eyes told a story of a world outside of his own. Sure, there was a poor self-esteem, but there was also a desire and a want for a better way of life. And he was once that way.
"So, where do you work now?â€
"At the Days Inn. It's been a year now. And, I know I was trippin earlier, with the whole bit about my nameâ€¦maybe I just needed to eat. I get edgy when I don't get my grub onâ€.
"Ohâ€”you definitely did thatâ€, said Mason, indicating the missing shake and empty plate. Again, Adena laughed; a hearty one this time. "And you? Where do you work, mister Brooks Brothersâ€
â€”She reached over and plucked the collar of Mason's blazer. â€”
"Misterâ€¦â€ She leaned closer to sniff a few times before she guessed at his cologne.
"â€”Ohh.. nice choice with the Calvin Klein..â€
Mason's head jerked back some, surprised at how sharp this woman was. But she wasn't done.
"And don't think I haven't also been checkin' your wheels outside. Nice truck.â€
Now Mason snickered aloud. "For someone with a low self-esteem, you sure do analyze like a conditioned player.â€
"Are you a player?' She asked
"Not at all. I just work damned hard.â€
"Well then I'm just like you. My only thing is, I been around the block enough to know a fraud when I see oneâ€¦â€ Adena paused, picked up her check, and left a tip.
Mason nearly choked on the silence, with his face twisted every which way.
Adena strutted to the cashier, paid exact change, and left through the front of the restaurant. But Mason was fast in pursuit.
"Now wait a goddamned minute!â€ Mason nearly hit the glass door against the wall as fast as he flew out after her. Plus, he had to navigate past a couple of businessmen strolling the sidewalk, both of them teetering between fearing for their lives and jumping into help the woman he was after. "How'd you come to that conclusion!â€
Adena had stopped close to the curb to casually light up a cigarette. Meanwhile, her actions cast a notion that there was not a care in the world, least of all her assailant. The businessmen stayed their ground. "Slow down, playboy. Nobody said you were a fake.â€
"But you just saidâ€”"
"I just said that I know a fraud when I see one. But, Mister Fickle, I was basically trying to get your attention. A lot of times when you call a spade a spade, a person is gonna shut up and take a punch, cuz they know the truth..â€ Adena exhaled a stream of smoke before she went on " But you, Mister Fickleâ€¦ you're no phony. And that tells me a girl who's interestedâ€”â€ She stroked Mason's arm with her forefinger. "â€”That you are very real.â€
"Wait a minute How you know my last name? I didn't tell you my last name in there. Who sent you, Adena? Who's trying to set me up!â€ Mason held Adena's arms as though he'd captured a crook. "When I left Philly I told them to leave me alone! I'm out! Finished! Thru!!!
"Ouchâ€¦â€ Adena peeled Mason's hands from her arms "You're hurting me, Mason.â€
"Well, who sent you? Tell me!â€
"You wanna know? You really wanna know?â€
Hands on his hips, Mason said, "yeah.â€
Having already dropped her cigarette during the altercation, Adena regained her cool. She casted her gaze on the cigarette, mashed it with the tip of her shoe, then she went to be closer to Mason.
"Relax. I'm gonna tell you,â€ she said. And she was almost body to body with him now, until her lips were near his ear. "The reason I know your last name is because of your license plate, sir. And besides, you even have a baggage claim check still hanging on your briefcase. So I got roughed up because I'm sharp?â€ Mason looked over at his truck and then he realized he left his briefcase inside. "Oh shit,â€ he blurted, and he started back into Brownie's to retrieve it. "Hold on.â€
When Mason returned to the sidewalk, complete with his ticketed-briefcase, Adena was gone. Mason could only search the eyes of those onlookersâ€”the waitress in the window; the businessmen nearby. Calculating, Mason guessed that the woman went for her car.
Don't get it twistedâ€¦ on my grindâ€¦ bank accountâ€¦ a Lexus! The clues she dropped were still fresh on the chalkboard of his mind. And like an epileptic with a fit, Mason searched the parking spaces to and fro. He did not want Adena to get away. She was fine. She was sharp. She was witty as hell. But more importantly, she deserved an apology.
He wanted to shout her name, but this wasn't life or death, it was simply a loose end. And besides, now that he'd faced that first alluring female in a long, long time, it made him want her in every way imaginable. She was something and somebody that he had to have.
Finally spotting an all-white Lexus, Mason kicked his steps up a couple notches so as not to let her get away. But there was no need to fret. Adena was already lowering her window. He let off an appreciative sigh.
"Hey, Iâ€¦ why'd you run off?â€
Adena made a face.
"Yeah, right. Stupid question. I'm surprised you didn't smack me. Listenâ€¦ I'm really, really, really sorry for what happened back there.â€
"Really sorry?â€ asked Adena, lighting up her second cigarette in as many minutes.
"No, really, really sorry. You have no idea the things going through my mind. The past is â€“â€
"No, you're right. I don't have any idea. And I donâ€˜t think I wanna have any idea.â€
"How can we forget this happened. Can I make it up to you? Dinner maybe?â€
"Right. So you can talk me into a romp in the sack; a one night fling? Is that what you think I am.?â€
"No please, we could do breakfastâ€”â€
Adena with the wide eyes.
"I mean lunchâ€¦ happy hour. Whatever. Just let me spend some time with you â€¦treating you like a lady, and notâ€”â€
"How you treated me back there?â€
"Errâ€¦ right. I'm so sorry. Now, can I make it up to you?â€
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