An Excerpt from STILL WIFEY MATERIAL
by Kiki Swinson

Starting Over

(Kira Speaks)

After two long weeks of unnecessary drama, and of mourning the deaths of Quincy, Rhonda, and my grandmother, Nikki and I made up. She took the death of my grandmother pretty badly, though. I was broken up about it myself, but Nikki and my grandmother grew very close after my supposed death. Having to go on in life without my grandmother was going to be a very difficult journey for her, which was why I suggested that she and I move to Houston, Texas. She was kind of hesitant at first, but after I told her how cheap the real estate was there and that we could open up a brand new hair salon and make plenty of money, she jumped at the opportunity.

While I got on the phone with a real estate agent, Nikki put in for a transfer with her probation officer, Maxine Shaw. Maxine gave her some static in the beginning, but ended up approving it. I tied up the loose ends with the salon and sold everything. I hit Rhonda’s mother off with a little cushion for the kids, since they were my godchildren, and packed my bags. After saying our goodbyes to Nikki’s parents, we were out of there.

Life in Houston was a bit different. There were a lot of people with dough living out there, and if they didn’t have any money, they looked like they did, so I had to step up my game. I purchased a beautiful twenty-five-hundred-square-foot brick home in the gated community of Sonoma Ranch Estates with three bedrooms and a huge backyard for less than one hundred seventy-five thousand dollars. I went to the nearest Lexus dealership and traded in my old Lexus for a 2008 Matador Red Mica LS 460 with tan leather interior. The shit was so hot, and not only that, but I looked good in it. Nikki must have had the same thoughts as me, because she pulled out her checkbook and stroked a seventy-five-thousand-dollar check to the same salesman I used, so she could buy the exact same car I bought. Hers was black with gray interior. They even threw in a set of custom rims. You should have seen her face after she handed the check to the man. It was like she was trying to prove something to me.
After the salesman took her money and left to speak with his sales manager to process her deal, I pulled her aside and asked her where she was going to get the money to cover the check.

“Why are you worried about it? I got this,” she replied, and then she smiled and started to walk away.

I grabbed her arm. “Why you got to walk off? This is serious. These salesmen ain’t got time for games. They are expecting every number you wrote on that check to be in that account,” I warned.

“And it is,” she said, getting frustrated. “I took two-hundred-thousand from Syncere’s stash while he was locked up. That’s why the nigga tried to kill me.”
“Oh really?”

“Yep, I sure did,” she said with a smirk. “All the shit I took from him, I deserved every penny.” And with that said, she scooted toward the accounting office.

I stood there in disbelief because in all honesty, I didn’t buy one word she had said. She was one timid-ass bitch, and I knew how afraid she was of Syncere, so she would not have taken anything from his crazy ass. Besides, right before we left Virginia, there was some talk on the streets that Quincy had been hit up for a large sum of cash either before he got killed or right after. Since Nikki told the police that she was the one who found his body tortured to death, I figured she had to be the one who clipped him. When I asked her about it a while back, she denied it, so I left it alone and didn’t bother to mention it to her again.

If you wanted my opinion, I could have cared less if she took his money, because I had my own. As a matter-of-fact, between the five-hundred-thousand-dollar insurance check I got from Ricky’s death, the one-hundred-fifty-thousand-dollar insurance check I got from a policy I took out on my grandmother years ago, and the little bit of money I got from selling my business, I was going to be set for a while.

As far as Nikki was concerned, she had a few plans of her own. None of them had been brought into manifestation, but she kept reminding me constantly of how she wanted to open up a salon of her own, so it wouldn’t be long before she decided to branch off and do her own thing. Speaking of which, a few days after Nikki and I rode away from the dealership with our new whips, I stumbled across the perfect location for my salon while I was cruising around the uptown district of Houston. Since it came at a really good price, I snatched it up the very next day. It only took us about a month to open the shop, which I named Creative Images, and we rented out two of the other four booths we had to some well-established hair stylists from the area.

That was the easy part. The hard part came after we finally opened the salon’s doors. Stylists from other salons in the area started hating on us because we took their clients. When I tell you that the chicks out there were vicious, believe me! A lot of those hoes had a lot of mouth. In fact, there were three loudmouthed Nigerian chicks who braided hair in a shop right next door to us. They were always getting into it with Nikki about the parking spaces outside, since we only had eight parking spaces in the side lot that we all had to share. It seemed like every time Nikki and I turned around, their customers were taking up all the damn spaces.

One day I made a trip over there and had a few words with the owner, Sophie. Sophie was one ugly bitch, but you wouldn’t be able to tell her that. She wore traditional African clothing and wrapped her hair like she was a goddess or something, but she was ghetto as hell.

When I walked into her shop, everybody, including all five of her clients, turned to face me. It was no secret why I was there, so I walked over to Sophie, threw my hands in the air, and said, “I know you know why I’m here.”
Sophie’s big, Amazon-looking ass just stood there with a handful of synthetic braiding hair in her hand and gave me the stupidest expression she could muster. She tried to act like she had no idea why I was there, so I played along because if she wanted to act stupid, then I was more than willing to treat her that way.

“Who in here drives a white Ford Explorer and a blue Toyota Camry?” I asked.

“I drive the Camry,” one client yelled out.

“I’m driving the Explorer,” one of the Nigerian hair braiders said.
“Well, y’all are going to have to move them because I have a couple of customers at my shop that don’t have anywhere to park.”

Both women sighed heavily as if I had just interrupted them, but they got up and grabbed their car keys from their handbags. I smiled at them both and said, “Thank you.”

On my way out I heard Sophie mumble something under her breath and then everybody laughed. Her English was really off, but I still understood some of the shit she said. As much as I wanted to turn around and ask them what was so damn funny, I told myself that it would be a waste of time. I held my head high and kept it moving. In this day and age, you couldn’t always feed into drama, especially with the hoes over there, because Nikki and I were from out of town and we could not get caught up in their bullshit. Moreover, we had more business than they did, so the tension between my front door and theirs was thick enough to cut with a knife.

About two weeks ago, Alana, one of Sophie’s stylists, arrived one morning and saw Sophie’s husband trying to holler at Nikki. When Sophie got wind of it, she walked into our shop and immediately wanted Nikki to tell her what her and her husband’s conversation was about. Nikki stood her ground and told Sophie that she was the wrong person to be talking to.

“What do you mean, you are the wrong person? Weren’t you the one smiling in my husband’s face?” Sophie asked, irritation stamped across her broad face.

“Sweetie, I smile in a lot of cats’ faces, so you’re gonna need to step to him about this one,” Nikki retorted. She turned her back and walked to our back office.

Sophie said a few things in her native language and stormed out of our shop, which was fine with me because she got the hell out of my face. After she left, I walked back to our office and screamed at Nikki about fucking with that bitch’s husband, because I didn’t travel all the way out there to create a whole new set of problems. And I let her know this shit too.

“What the fuck is up with you and that bitch’s husband?” I yelled. “You know I’m not trying to get into unnecessary drama! So, you need to correct that bullshit and do it like yesterday!” I warned.

“He came on to me first!” Nikki protested.

“So what!” I sighed heavily. “You see how stupid she’ll act behind him, so back the fuck up and get your own man!”

“Come on now, I don’t even like that ugly-ass nigga!”

“Well, tell him that the next time he approaches you, because we don’t need that bitch running over here every time she finds out he was in your face. We are running a business here, so we do not need the drama.”

“Yeah, a’ight,” Nikki said and went on about her business.

That day was pretty upsetting for me, so upsetting that I had to take a time-out to pop two Tylenols because I had gotten one bad migraine. God knew that when I got a migraine, it damn near killed me, so I made it my business to keep the tension down between Nikki and those Nigerian chicks.

On another note, I still had to get my doctor to diagnose the real reason why my migraines started. I kept telling the son of a bitch that I got shot a while back and that might be the cause, but he kept telling me some other bullshit. At that point it really didn’t matter, just as long as he found me the right medication to contain that shit before I went off the deep end.

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