'I write because there is a voice within me that will not be still' Sylvia Plath
Preacher or Player
How can a man who counts BARLOWGIRL, BIG DADDY WEAVE and SKILLET as his favorite musical artists be as scandalous as Franklin Cleophus Muhammed?
Never heard of him?
Muhammed is an coming young pastor of a little church that seemed to just spring up out of the weeds, but had actually been around for about ten years total. A seemingly over night sensation who had been toiling away, building his brand unawares until suddenly his name was on the lips of many of the movers and shakers in the faith community.
Top notch business mind.
Good looking ... Ah, there was the rub.
His looks, his charm, his sex appeal ... That was the sin that had done other great pastors in. But like JIM JONES, Muhammed seemed to have a trance over his parishioners, whereas he could do no wrong in their eyesight.
The long and short of it all, the man had 23 kids
8 from his long suffering wife, Bacardi Hardeman
3 from beautiful radio programmer, Talaya Bartell
2 from the vivacious, Serenity Knowles
1 from the sultry, Marquitta Curtis.
2 from muy caliente store manager/ church usher, Tameela Oliver
1 from the magnificent hip hop dancer, Vanessa Warner.
4 from the exquisite session drummer, Rain Ayres
2 from the radiant, Markina Gibson
They were all either members of his church, or women that he came in contact at other churches or faith based events. And at least once or twice, all of them had been in the same room with him unexpectedly, but without too much drama.
The key to harmony being that every one "stay in their lane" and not cause any undue humiliation to his wife. Because as long as she was happy, all would be right with the world.
Not that she whole heartedly condoned his behavior. But when all was said and done, in the end she held all of the cards. She knew where all of his skeletons were hidden and wouldn't hesitate to "blow up" his entire world if he dared to try and leave her. Which she knew in the back of her mind was possible. Because of all of the women, at least one he was deeply in love with. She wasn't sure which one. But there was definitely one. And Mrs. Muhammed was not having it.
Franklin could have his dalliances, so long as he was available to her when she called and didn't flaunt his women for the whole world to see. After all, he'd been discreet when conceiving children with them, so he'd better be discreet with his continued rendezvous.
So if she had all of this power, why didn't she just divorce him? Because somehow he convinced her to sign a prenup, back when he had very little. And it was binding. Meaning that if they divorced, she'd walk away with nothing. So it made more sense to endure until the end.
10 Years Prior ...
It had all been so simple in the beginning.
Bacardi Hardeman tried to be as cold as possible to the gorgeous young man with the unique name. After all, she'd had her share of men using her for their jollies and then dumping her like a very bad habit. And she was sick of it. Going so far as to have sworn off men; toying with the idea of becoming a lesbian, but not sure she had the heart for it.
Then along came Franklin.
He wanted her. And he wanted her bad. It was all in his eyes.
She resisted and resisted and resisted for days, weeks, months ... Well, not months. Actually barely a two months, having intended to earnestly practice the 90 day rule. But he was all too charming, suave, debonair ... Her heart just couldn't take his sweet talk, mesmerizing cologne and endless delivery of flowers to her job. He literally ad her walking on air, the envy of all of her co workers.
Then there were the things he said. Things like how beautiful she was. About how if she were his woman, she'd never have to work again. In fact, that was the one that did it. And before she knew it, she was going out to dinner with him, walking hand in hand with him along the lakefront and then spending the night with him in a swanky high rise hotel, overlooking Lake Michigan.
She was his and he was hers.
Except, what she didn't know was that while he was waiting for her to give in to him, he had others on standby. And after she gave in to him, he had others on standby. And as he began to preach all over the city, state and parts unknown, single, married and undetermined women of all ages, shapes and sizes were literally lining up to be bent over, laid down or hoisted into the air up against a wall. Because not only was he good looking, sexy and charismatic, Franklin Cleophus Muhammed represented power and status. And many women wanted a piece of that; either through pushing his main woman out of the way or at the very least, having his babies and being linked to him until infinity and beyond.
I should know. I'm one of those women.
Sexy Radio Exec
My name is Talaya Bartell.
I'm the General Manager of a legendary Christian music radio station, serving the Greater Chicagoland area.
Some people say I look like KELLY CLARKSON from American Idol. Personally, I don't see it, but still I use it to my advantage. Sometimes letting people believe that I am her. Whatever it takes to get my daily dosage of "vitamin D", if you catch my drift.
I didn't have to do that with Franklin.
He'd come into the station trying to buy some airtime. Not something that we usually do. That was something we left for our chief competitor, the oldest Christian radio station in the market. But the thing was, he wasn't trying to broadcast his church's services. No. He actually wanted to be a radio personality and play music and promote his church's activities between songs.
That's how Gospel radio used to be in Chicago, back in the day. Back when pastors like MILTON BRUNSON, FATHER CHARLES G HAYES and WILLIE JAMES CAMPBELL used to come on back to back and play some of the best Gospel music that you wanted to hear. Then they'd read church announcements for their own churches, as well as promote events around the city.
At some point things changed.
There were always church broadcasts, but at some point there seemed to be more live church services and less recorded music. Our competitor even started putting infomercials in slots where there was once music, with the thought that those were the things that kept the station on the air. But the younger listeners (and many of the older ones) wanted to be able to tune into inspirational songs whenever they turned the dial. Which is why our station had been so popular, since 1992.
Anyway, I thought that I might have a two hour spot for the good reverend after he hypnotized me with his sexy voice and staring deep into my eyes. And once I did that, I'm pretty sure I was the main component to increasing his popularity as a minister and helping his church to grow. At least, that's what he told me. And I ate it all up, whether it was truth or fiction. Because when he showered me with compliments, I just couldn't breathe. So the fact that he wined, dined and wooed me into bed isn't really a big surprise. But the fact that he was able to get three children out of me ...That "ish" I just couldn't comprehend. That right there snuck up on me. Me who hadn't put children on my vision board. Me who was married to her career. And maybe I wasn't the only one that happened to. I don't know. But no matter what else he had going on his life, I demanded equal time. I didn't care if he was married or a pastor or any of that. He had babies with me, so that meant that I had a claim on him. The rest I would just have to figure out at a later date I guess.
© 2022 LaZeric Freeman