(Imani) "I'ma slice his fuckin' throat," Imani hissed as she watched the pregnant Shante board the prison's shuttle bus in front of her. For two years Imani had been asking Walik if he was still fucking with Shante and he swore to her that he wasn't. He said that Shante had the type of pussy a niggah just wanted to hit it and quit it--nothing more than that. He swore on their son, Jamal, and on every block he had locked in the street that Shante was no longer a factor. "On some real shit," Walik constantly assured Imani, "fuck that dusty bitch. She's just a used-up jump-off! Why you even sweatin' that shit? You know she hate you 'cause she ain't you. On the real, she like a stray dog around here, any niggah that feed her can keep her!" "Whatever." "Come on, Imani, I made you, why would I play you?" "Then why is she calling me, Walik?" Imani would ask. "I don't know, her ass is crazy." "Then you better handle her crazy ass." Imani would hand him the phone. "Call and check that bitch!" Walik would take the phone and cuss Shante out, time and time again. And that was always enough to psych Imani up as if nothing had ever happened, returning their relationship to full-pledge "wifey and my boo" mode . . . but not this time. Imani was convinced that forgiveness was a big piece of shit found underneath a curb your dog street sign. Imani reached for her six-year-old son's hand as he leaned against her thigh and began to fall asleep. "And to think I spent my last dime and got my wig tightened 'cause I was comin' to visit this niggah." Imani mumbled as low as she could, trying her best to keep her bottom lip from trembling. She wanted to cry, but instead she tucked in her bottom lip and began to rock slightly from side to side. "I ain't got on no drawls underneath this skirt and shit. My ass all hangin' out. I gave my son a double dose of nighttime Tylenol so this niggah could get some visiting-hall pussy in peace, and I won't have to stop bucking the dick to say, Turn around, Jamal." She pushed her burgundy-tipped wavy micro braids behind her ears and turned to board the rickety old prison bus. Stepping onto the platform, she took a deep breath. Already the stale air and the condemned look of the bus had started to get to her. The faded, cracked leather seats, the smells of fried chicken, baby formula, and hair products, and the rough feel of octagon-shaped wire window bars that usually left imprints on Jamal's cheeks when he pressed his face against them were enough to make her feel as if she had boarded the bus to Oz. For a moment she thought about turning around and going home, but the more she stared at Shante, the more determined she was to see Walik's face, so she could look at him and say, See why I ain't fuckin' wit' yo' ass? Imani sucked on the inside of her cheek as her eyes started to burn. Sorry, triflin' no-good motherfucker! I swear to God, she thought, all this hold-a-niggah-down-ride-or-the-fuck-die-shit is a wrap. No more paying for your collect-call promises, no more splitting my welfare check with your commissary account, and no more playing in my pussy while you listen to me nut over the phone. Fuck you! What's good for the thug is better for the thugette. If you can get yo' cleanup woman on then it's time for the maintenance man to get in check. Besides, she started sucking on her bottom lip, I'm tired of yo' eight and a half inches of overrated, cheating-ass dick! Imani found a seat in the third row, directly across from Shante. I'ma kill him, she thought, trying not to focus on the sticky foam rising through the cracked leather seat. Instead, while Jamal drifted back to sleep, she crossed her legs and leaned her head back. She turned her neck to the right, moved her eyes up and down, curledWhitaker, Tu-Shonda L. is the author of 'EX Factor' with ISBN 9780345486660 and ISBN 0345486668.