- Author: Koko Brown
Book online «Jezebel Koko Brown (best books to read non fiction txt) 📖». Author Koko Brown
Copyright© 2013 Koko Brown
Copyright© 2013 Koko Brown
Coverart by Reese Dante
Electronicbook publication April 2013
Withthe exception of quotes used in reviews, this book may not bereproduced or used in whole or in part by any means withoutpermission from the author, KOKO BROWN.
WARNING:The unauthorized reproduction or distribution of this copyrightedwork is illegal. No part of this book may be scanned, uploaded ordistributed via the Internet or any other means electronic or print,without the author’s permission. Criminal copyrightinfringement without monetary gain is investigated by the FBI and ispunishable by up to 5 years in Federal Prison and a fine of $250,000.For more information regarding the government’s stance oncopyright infringement visit :http://www.fbi.gov/ipr.
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Thisbook is dedicated to my mother who always believed in me andsupported all of my crazy dreams.
Engelmann Theatre’sresident MC tweakedhis bow tie. For added dramatic effect, he brushed imaginary dustfrom both shoulders,then pulledthe microphone toward him with a practicedflair.
“Ladies and gentlemen.MayI introduce tosome and reacquaint others withthe mostdelectable,the sweetestdance troupe you’ve ever laid eyes on. Ladieshold onto yourbeaus. Gents hideyour wallets. Everyone putyour hands together for…BROWNSUGAR!”
On cue,center stage exploded intoa kaleidoscopeof light, feathers and sepia–tonedskin. Costumed inSalmon pink, perfectly coiffed and powdered, Brown Sugar moved asone.
The feathers on theirabbreviated bolero jackets quiveredas they twirled, spun and pulsed to the house band.Their matching pink silk shorts,barely coveringbee-stung buttocks,rode high on theirrounded hipsand firm thighs.
Great genetics aside,grueling rehearsal hours contributed to a dozen pairs of well-toned,café-au-lait colored legs slicing through the air withmilitary precision.
Tallulah“Tookie”Whitfield mentally counted each step. If anyone messed up, she’dmake sure she’d drill them on it atttomorrow’srehearsal.
All of the above, Tookieacquiesced. She hadn’tbecome thesole proprietor of one of the Chitlin Circuit’s most successfulvaudeville showsbecauseshe was soft.Ifshe had, then she would’ve folded years ago. And Whitfield’sfollies were still going strong after being on the road for more thanfifteen years.
“Has she shown upyet?”
Tookiekept her eyes on her dancers. The most valuable lesson she’dever learned in show business was never let them see you sweat.Especiallytheatreowners like Rufus Engelmann,who held the keys to the safe and herreputation in his hands.
“The show’salmost over, Whitfield,”Engelmann threatened, “andshe hasn’t stepped foot on stage yet. She was top billed and you aren’t delivering.”
Tookiedredged up one of the half-a-dozen excuses she’d used duringthe past year,but she choked.
Silently fumingand wishing it was Celeste’s scrawny neck,Tookieclenched the Cubancigar in her hand so tightly it crumbledintoseveral pieces. Shelet the tobacco slip through her slack fingers just like the moneyshe would lose by not honoring the terms of Engelmann’sagreement.
“You can ignore me allyou want,”Engelmann barked, continuing his temper tantrum. “ButI’ll see you in my office after the show.And you better bring your contract.”
Abandoning her for now,Engelmann turned onhis heel anddisappeared in the throng of backstage hands and miscellaneousperformers watching the show.
Not only was her star actmissing, but sowere two othergirls who danced in this particular number. Her troupe was fallingdown around her ears!
While a tremor rocked herpint-sized frame, Tookiescanned the backstagecrowd.Spotting Hershel Broomfield, one-halfof the Broomfieldbrothers’comedyact, she reached out, grabbed his suspendersand pulled him into the corner.
“Where are Delilahand Molly?”
Hershel’s eyes wideneduntil the white practically engulfed his brown irises. He’dbetter be fearful.She had a can of whoopass up her sleeve.And at this point it didn’t matter who was on the receivingend.
“S–someone onefrom the sheriff’s officedropped by beforethe start of the show,”he stuttered. “Insteadof tellingyou, both of them bailedCeleste out of the slammer.”
“Are they back yet?”Tookie asked, shaking him. She was only five feet, but she couldshake a pecan tree dry with her bare hands.
Hershelnodded. “Abouttwentyminutes ago, but it doesn’t lookgo—”
Before hecould finish, Tookiereleased himso fast he stumbled backward and became entangled in the velvet stagecurtains. Whilehe righted himself, Tookiemarcheda mean streak tothe girls’ dressing room. CelesteNewsome and jail were so synonymous, she digested the informationwithout missing a beat.
“I should’ve letthat pickled broad go yearsago,” she muttered under her breath. “Nothingbut troublefrom the jump.”
Despite her woes withdealing with the Follies’ resident drunk, Tookieknew very well why she hadn’t cannedCeleste.
Good enough for anyHollywood Studio, thetwenty-somethingcharlatan was a tap dancing dynamo and one of the Whitfield Follies’star attractions.
So much so, Tookiemade sure she featured Celeste on all of their promotional postersalong with songbirdEffie Bingham and DickeyCooper’s twelve-piece band. Together,theacts guaranteeda sold-out circuit.
Thatdidn’t mean Tookiewould letthe heifer get away with ruining what she’d built with her ownblood, sweat and tears. With agood portion ofthe country unemployed, every Tom, Dick and Harry was vying for aspot on the Chitlin’ Circuit. Ifanother theatre learned the Whitfield Follies couldn’t deliver,the entire troupe would wind up on the soup line by the end of theweek.
And it would be all herfault.
For years,she’d turned a blind eye to Celeste’s insatiable thirstfor hooch and male companionship. Heck, she wouldturn a blind eye to cold-blooded murderas long as Celestefilled theater seats. And she did, sometimes twice in one evening.
Instead of taking comfort instanding ovations and accolades, the talented young dancer lived likea demon was riding her back. Assoon as the curtains closed, she high tailed it to the nearestjuke joint.
Remembering the dirty littleIndianola shack and the even dirtier bum whose arms she’dpersonally fished Celeste from last fall, a shudder racked Tookie’ssolid frame.
Fed up, she’dgiven Celeste an ultimatum. Get clean or pack her bags and go back toBrooklyn. Herthreat seemedto do the