Daddy Wayworth was filthy freakin’ rich!
The first thing that tipped Meagan off was the sight of the limousine awaiting the trio out front — a chauffeur holding the door open. The second tip-off was the huge mansion. That came into view as they rode in the aforementioned limo. It appeared in all its glory as they rounded a corner up the long cobblestoned drive to the North Center neighborhood property. Kat wasn’t lying after all. Not in the least bit. Meagan didn’t know what Kat’s dad did for a living, and she would never learn what his real name was aside from “Daddy Wayworth.” Maybe it was best that way, she tought. Something wasn’t quite right about the man. His fourth wife — or was it his fifth? — introducted herself inside. By looks, husband and wife were totally incompatable. The wife was a sort of orange woman who looked like a bodybuilder, with fake blonde hair that shone bright against the fake tan. Mr. Wayworth — Meagan would just call him that — was a pale, slightly overweight man by stark contrast, with thinning brown hair, wearing a business suit. “He’s always wearing a damned business suit,” Kat would gripe later. “Even when he’s supposed to be spending quality time with his kids.” In the latter statement, one could hear the eyeroll without having to look at the girl’s face. She said “kids,” plural, because there was an older half-brother somewhere in the picture — a product of one of Mr. Wayworth’s previous marriages.
At the dinner table was where Meagan enjoyed a fantastic 4-course dinner: lobster bisque, fresh garden salad, linguini alfredo made with the best homemade sauce she had ever tatsed and shrimp that was not only cooked to absolute perfection but tasted so fresh one would think there was an ocean right outside; and for dessert, the finest red velvet cheesecake she had ever had. It was also where Megan learned about Kat’s mother, the first Wayworth wife. “She’s a crack whore who lives on the streets of South Chicago,” Kat blurted out. “Katrina!” Her dad made a half-assed attempt to chastize her. Kat shrugged, never looking up from her pasta, which she shoved around with a fork. “Might as well get to the bottom line,” she muttered. Meagan realized that Kat didn’t like to speak about her mom. Now she understood why.
Later that night, both Meagan and Kat lay awake and talked into the early morning hours. “Tomorrow,” Kat told her excitedly. “You’ll meet Carlos and the boys.” The sexy teen went on to talk about Carlos, her boyfriend — how they first met, their first time in bed together, up to present day.
Theirs wasn’t at all a romantic story by anyone’s standards: They had met in detention. When spotting her for the first time from across the classroom, he had made kissing noises loud enough for her to hear. When she turned to look at him, as she explained, “It was magical! — Sparks were flying, I’m telling you.” They started going out after Carlos finally approached her one day during lunch and made his proposition. “Ay, mami,” he had said to her, making it a point to look her up and down. “There’s an Ice Cube concert going on Downtown tonight. If you be my date, I’ll let you ride shotgun in my new wheels. And then, maybe later…” According to Kat, he had raised his eyebrows suggestively while grabbing his junk. “I’ll let you ride on by bigger wheels.”
“It was so corny,” Kat laughed, reminiscing. “And I knew he was cute and all, but I had to play a little hard to get, you know?’ She looked over at Meagan. “Cause if you don’t, guys’ll think you’re too easy.”
Thanks for the tip, Meagan thought. That had been earlier this semester, Kat explained. So they had only been together since January. Carlos was now in Chicago awaiting her arrival, supposedly there to visit his own family. As Kat went on, she told tales of the mischevious acts the couple had committed together: cutting class, shoplifting, tagging, making out half-naked in risky public places. “It was like we were wanting to get caught.” She explained that his “wheels” as he called them, was a lime green dodge challenger with gold plated rims and loud bass. “Our first time was in the back seat,” Kat said, biting her lip and nodding her head, as if to the beat of an unheard song. Meagan bit back the urge to groan. “And can you believe that he got that car with money he made at the chop shop?”
She could believe it. “No!”
“Yeah!” Instead of looking back on the recent memory with disdain, Kat had a delighted grin on her face. She sat up and lay on her stomach, her chin resting on her hands. “Yeah. He’s a bad boy. But he’s all mine! Got it?” She eyed Meagan, who gave her a sideways look and lifted up a corner of her mouth. “As if I’m really interested in stealing your gangster boyfriend away!”
“Hey, I don’t know you that well yet. You never know. And he really is in a gang, by the way. He’s the leader.”
Kat chuckled. “You’ll see tomorrow.” With that she yawned noisily and lay down. “Well, good night.”
“Um, you realize it’s already tomorrow, right?”
“We’re meeting up in the afternoon. Plenty of time for sleep.”
The next afternoon brought the biggest change in Meagan’s life up until that point, a change that wasn’t for the better. When they met up with Carlos and “the boys” — a group that consisted mostly of hispanics with the exception of one lone, white male — Meagan could tell that whatever they really were as a unit, Carlos was definitely the leader. The group and the girls met at a park on the South side. Once she pulled her father’s cherry-red ’64 Ford Mustang into a parking space, Kat had barely put it in park before flinging herself at Carlos. Picking her up off the gorund, Carlos kissed her hard, one hand firmly grasping her buttock. As she climbed out of the car like a human at normal speed, Meagan became nauseated at the sight. She rounded the car and approached them. Then Kat, cheekes flushing, proudly announced, “This is Carlos!” As if Meagan couldn’t already make that inference.
Carlos gave a nod in greeting. “‘Suuuuup!” Meagan said nothing, only stood there staring at the young man. And he was a man, not a boy. With a stubble beard, he wore a purple beanie on his head that covered his eyebrows, a garmet that the others wore also.
These guys have to be early thirties, at least, Meagan thought.
Later, when they were alone, Meagan would ask Kat, “How old is Carlos?”
“Twenty-five,” she would answer, a cool look on her face.
“Really? Beacuse I had him pegged for maybe thirty.”
“Really, really. Seen his birth certificate an’ all.” Meagan wasn’t sure if that was true or not but supposed she had no choice but to go with it.
To complete his outfit, Carlos wore a wife beater tanktop, sagging jeans with his underwear sticking out and a chain hanging off one side, and white sneakers. On his neck, Meagan could see a tattoo that said LIFE. She suddenly had the urge to hit him, an itch that would never go away.
Nevertheless, Meagan was at that tender, complicated age where finding acceptance anywhere in the world was crucial, and she now had no one else but this little group who, in the end, seemed to accept her. One of them, the white guy, whose name was Paul, had a crush on her. The problem was, she was put off by his greasy hair and body odor. She learned to keep her distance from him, though he persisted a lot.
In no time, Meagan made a routine out of learning the ways of the streets by day, and sleeping in a mansion by night. She began drinking, smoking pot, and partying well into the night, only to wake up the next afternoon and do it all over again. She even took up day drinking. When she wasn’t doing that, she was selling drugs, stealing cars, and tagging random spots all over town with Carlos’s boys. She learned how to be a gang banger fairly quickly, which impressed all the boys. No one seemed to care anymore what Meagan did. So this was her new life.