The Pantry: Chapter 1


The light sound of tapping coupled with throaty cries that escaped from behind the closed office door paraded through the small, secluded hallway that housed the manager’s office and the employee bathrooms.

“Out of all the places he can bring a hoe, he bring her up in here. I can’t stand him, whimpering like some lil bitch,” Quan mumbled while slowly making his way through the hallway, being sure to listen as hard as he could for as long as could. He was jealous, yes, but whenever the opportunity of listening and or watching sexual escapades presented itself, he was all in. Stopping just before he reached the threshold at the end of the hall, right before entering into the busy and boisterous Saturday morning crowd, he zoned in harder, trying to hear a bit more of his boss’s rendezvous. To his dismay, he heard nothing, indicating that the deed was done, and his boss would soon be out, fresh from a tension release, engaging with his customers like he didn’t have a care in the world, throwing Quan into a frustrated rage. Balling his lips, he walked out into the crowd and over towards his desk, stopping to allow a woman pushing a stroller to pass, he glanced around at his surroundings and flopped down on the chair. He playfully tapped his hands on the desk just as the phone began to ring. He had an inkling on who was calling, being that Trish, the boss’s girlfriend, well, more like baby mama, was really the only person who preferred to call his desk instead of calling the main number on the floor.

Taking in a deep breath, he mustered up a calm, cool tone “Thank you for calling Big City Mart, how can I help you?”

“Don’t worry ‘bout how you can help me! Just get Tyrone on the phone!”

Quan moved the phone away from his ear and chuckled. This bitch, he huffed under his breath before allowing his mind to resurrect the lie he and Tyrone came up with a few hours earlier.

“He’s on break at the moment. Can—”


Moving the phone again from his ear, he shook his head and lightly placed it in its place. What the hell is wrong with that girl? An empty question he’s been asking himself ever since he walked in the store, fresh out of prison, and looking for work. He was met with a look of pure annoyance and judgment from her that day and every day after that.

“JaQuan, nice to meet you,” Tyrone said in his forced, proper work tone as he extended his hand.

“Just Quan is cool,” he replied while shaking his hand.

“Oh, alright. Quan, this is my girlfriend, Trish.”

Quan turned his attention on the dark-skinned, slim woman standing next to Tyrone. “How you doing Trish?”

Trish sucked her teeth, not bothering to mutter a single word of pleasantries as she watched her boyfriend make nice and become better acquainted with his new security guard.

“Um, come on Quan, let me show you around.”

Taking one final glance at Trish, the scowl on her face told it all. Don’t bother me! Don’t ever say a word to me, unless I say something to you first, and definitely, under no circumstances, ask me for anything!

Catching her drift, Quan removed all eye contact from her and followed behind Tyrone.

“Don’t worry about her. She acts like that towards everybody.”

Nodding, Quan kept his mouth shut. His sister, Jasmine, was the same exact way so he was used to girls with attitudes. Just like he was used to being judged immediately after females found out that he did twelve years in prison for an armed robbery that he unknowingly committed with his brother and his brother’s so-called boys. He had no time for attitude, so it was no need for Tyrone to go further on why his girl was full of it.

“This’ll be your area right over here.”

Quan dipped his head in acknowledgement towards the big blue desk with a small black stool that sat behind it. “Okay,” he answered, looking back at the stool as Tyrone continued the tour. Definitely gonna need a bigger chair.

Reading his mind, Tyrone smiled. “No worries, we’ll make sure you have a nicer, comfortable chair.”

“Thanks man,” Quan chuckled while patting his large stomach.

“So, this is the—”

“Girl! You missed it all last night! Where the hell were you? I’ve been calling you.”

Tyrone sighed and lightly shook his head. “That’s Kim, Trish’s best friend. I can’t stand her ass. Always coming over here, trying to get my girl out in the street like her nasty ass be doing.” Tyrone said while nodding his head towards the girl who’d just walked in.

Again, Quan simply nodded but this time, instead of turning away, he kept his eyes on her as he was instantly attracted to her. He watched her small waist and ample hips as she walked closer to Trish and tapped her on the arm.

“Girl, you know his ass wasn’t tryin’ to let me go nowhere.”

Quan turned away right before Trish and Kim looked over at Tyrone. Trish with a nasty stank face all over her face and Kim with a big grin on hers.

“Come on Quan.”

Following orders, Quan made his way to the women and nodded at Kim. To his surprise, Kim smiled warmly.

“Hi,” she said cheerfully.

“How you doing?” Quan replied.

“I’m good. You?”

His peripheral vision was strong, and it caught the hateful gaze that Trish was giving. Ignoring it, he kept his full attention on Kim.

“I’m fine.”

Kim looked over at Trish and then back at Quan. “Girl, lighten up. You don’t even know him like that?”

Trish folded her arms and rolled her eyes. “I know a hoodlum when I see one.”

Hoodlum? Quan’s mind screamed. Did this girl really just say that?

All eyes were now on Trish.

“What?! I said what I said!” Trish responded right before she rolled her eyes and walked away from the group.

Knowing full well he wouldn’t win, Quan remained silent, choosing to focus on Kim and readying himself for what was to come of his new job. That was eight months ago and during that time, his job at the black owned, Big City Mart, was more than just securing the building and fixing small odds and ins around the store. He was now Tyrone’s favorite employee and number one confidant. His ears have heard a lot and his eyes have seen more than their share of the dirty deeds and craziness.

“Excuse me?”

Taking himself out of his bubble of thought, Quan looked over at the elderly lady standing in front of him. “Yes ma’am?”

“Are these oxtails still on sale?” She readjusted her body weight, using her cane to steady her balance.

“I’m not sure ma’am. If you go over to one of the cashiers, they will help you.”

The lady slowly turned in the direction of Quan’s finger.

“You say over there?”

“Yes ma’am. Right over there where the numbers are. If you stand behind… It’s all right, I’ll walk with you over there.”

“Okay, thank you so much son. My eyes ain’t what they used to be.”

Quan smiled and stepped away from his desk. “It’s OK, I’ll help you.”

Looking over at the store’s six checkout lanes, only one was completely open, Monroe’s. Damn, he muttered under his breath. Monroe didn’t like Quan and Quan didn’t like Monroe. Monroe’s dislike for Quan seemed to elevate to new levels each time the two crossed paths, bringing on an added layer of detest. He looked over at Tasha’s station, a cashier who was much nicer and more chill than Monroe, but she was busy scanning items, smiling, and talking to her customer. Monroe leaned against the counter and rolled his eyes at Quan. “Uh,” he said while taking one final scan of the cashier lanes before finally deciding that ole stuck up Monroe was the only one who could help the lady. Getting the confrontation over with, Quan looked at the customer and smiled. “He’ll be able to help you.”

“Okay, good.”

Quan stood still as the lady cautiously walked closer to Monroe.

“You could’ve at least carried her stuff over here for her. That’s bad customer service.”

“It’s OK son, I got it. I still got enough strength in these eighty-two-year-old hands to carry my own stuff,” the woman laughed.

There he go, always starting something. You better chill before I embarrass your ass. The look of hatred was strong on Monroe’s face and Quan knew that he needed to get as far away from him as he could before he found himself throwing him into a choke hold. He was tired of dealing with his attitude and was close to acting on his thoughts. Taking one final look at his long, pink nails, his big bold eyelashes, bright purple eye shadow, and his too tight pants, Quan removed all focus off Monroe and smiled at the customer. “You have a good day.”

“Thank you and thank you for your help.”

“No problem.”

I swear, I’m gonna get his ass one day, Quan’s mind spilled one last hate-filled thought before he walked away. Going back to his desk, he scanned the store as customers shopped to fill up their pantries, freezers, refrigerators, and household items while mingling, and maneuvering through the store. Damn, he mumbled as his eyes landed on Tyrone, coming out into the crowd, with his usual look of satisfaction after one of his trysts. In the next moment, he looked to his right to catch Trish, irritated as usual, carrying her toddler daughter in her arms, and grabbing at her rambunctious son who was the splitting image of his father. “TJ! Come back here!”  

Quan looked over at Tyrone, secretly happy that he didn’t notice his baby mama, trying her hardest to gain control of their son before she made her way right over to where he was standing. I wonder which chick he had up in there this time.


Quan watched as TJ ran over to the array of fruit and helped himself to a handful of grapes. Damn, buying his ass some time. Come on TJ, go and get your… what? Oh, hell nah. He squinted his eyes to make sure they weren’t lying to him and what he was seeing was in fact true. There was Kim, standing beside Tyrone, with the look that he recognized most from spending so much time in prison. The look of shame sprinkled with guilt. All this time, he been talkin’ bout how he can’t stand her. Ain’t this some shit? He turned his attention back on TJ, glad that he was finally done snatching grapes. Come on lil man, go, and see your daddy. The anticipation that Tyrone was about to get caught, with the extra bonus that it was with a girl who was what is sister called, breaking girl code, was an excited welcome, bringing a gleeful smile to his face. He watched as Tyrone squeezed Kim’s butt before she swatted his hand away and quickly disappeared into the store. No, stay right there. Just a little bit longer. “Ah damn,” he murmured as Kim rushed past him, gave a quick wave, and escaped out the door. Somehow, missing her bestie and her godchildren.

Stay Tuned for Chapter 2! More Craziness! More Drama!

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Copyright © 2021 by RettieBooks & Yolanda Randolph Publications

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any written, electronic, recording, or photocopying without the publisher or author’s written permission. The exception would be in brief quotations embodied in reviews and pages where permission is specifically granted by the publisher or author. This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events, locales, and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.

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