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The Maintenance Man: A Novel Paperback – October 10, 2000
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About the Author
Success did not come easy for this 37-year-old Chicago native. In 1993 he was driving trains for the Chicago Transit Authority and struggling to keep a small business from going under. In 1995 he released his first book, Never Satisfied: How and Why Men Cheat, a controversial book of short stories about unfaithful men and the women who support their irresponsible behavior. The large New York publishing companies rejected his work, saying it wasn't marketable -- which basically meant, it wasn't good enough. Not willing to concede defeat, Michael decided to self-publish. He borrowed money from friends and family, charged his credit cards to the limit, and sold his automobile.
Within eight months, he sold more than 50,000 books and was on Essence and Emerge magazines best sellers' lists. He toured with black expos, sorority conventions, and book fairs. He even signed books at the local nightclubs, and hair salons.
"I was determined to make it!" he says. "I would sell books at a funeral if they let me."
Eventually, his popularity grew and so did the demand for his next book. This time, instead of writing another book on relationships, Michael took a gamble on a novel. "There was a void in African-American novels written by men," he explained. "I wanted to destroy the myth that men don't read."
In July of 1997 he released his second book, Men Cry in the Dark. Once again, the book was a big success, selling 30,000 hard cover editions during the first six months. This time the national media paid attention. Michael has been a guest on several local and national radio programs, including the syndicated Tom Joyner Morning Show. His electrifying personality has earned repeated appearances on talk shows such as Ricki Lake, Sally Jesse, Maury Povich, and The View. He has also been a guest host for Tavis Smiley on BET Tonight.
By the summer of 1997, demand for his appearances were overwhelming. Organizations, book clubs, and retail stores were frantically trying to book him. But Michael wasn't about to go back to doing business as usual. The local retail stores were too small to accommodate his large following and organizations refused to pay honorarium. He decided it was time to promote his own seminars. And he called it, The Love, Lust and Lies tour. Unlike traditional book signings, the events were held in auditoriums and lavish hotel ballrooms, usually on Saturday nights from 9-11 P.M. And best of all, he could charge admission, which was only $10.
Michael was careful not to turn-off his customers for the sake of a quick buck. "My goal was to make sure everyone took something positive away from the experience. If I broke even, I was happy," he said. The cost of promoting a successful event was beginning to add up. With the cost of radio advertisement averaging $5000, and rental fees for hotel ballrooms $2500, it was clear to Michael that he needed help. That help came in the form of radio stations cosponsoring the events. They ran additional commercials, gave away tickets, and in some cases, broadcasted live from the seminar. Other sponsors, such as banking institutions, credit card companies, and magazines soon came aboard with solid financial support. Michael could now concentrate on promoting bigger and more elaborate shows.
At the 1997 and the 1999 Expo in Cleveland, the seminar attracted over 3,000 women. "In 1997 it was so crowded the fire department closed off the floor," Michael recalls. In other markets such as Atlanta, Los Angeles, Charlotte, and Detroit the seminar has become a highly anticipated annual event. The interest was so great that Michael produced a video with excerpts from various shows and sold it through direct mail. The name of the video was, of course, Love, Lust, and Lies. During the first week of its release, the tape sold more than one thousand copies. Lastly, in 1999 he self published his most recent novel, The Maintenance Man. The main character, Malcolm, is a handsome gigolo looking to break out of the game. Michael says, "It was my way of letting the world know that not all men enjoy cheating and playing women. Eventually you have to grow up." As expected, it climbed quickly to the top of the best sellers' list and cemented Michael as one of the top authors in the country. No doubt he was already "The" most controversial and entertaining.
Michael is currently living in Houston, TX and is working on several projects for 2001. He is holding down his responsibilities as CEO of Legacy Publishing. Also, well-known Hollywood producer, Rueben Cannon, has optioned his latest novel, The Maintenance Man, for a movie. And most recently, Michael signed a deal with Tribune Broadcasting to host his long anticipated national talk show, "Talk or Walk" scheduled to air in the fall of 2001. Details of these events will be posted on his site and his monthly newsletter, so be sure to sign on!
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
I was 9:10 P.M. when my flight arrived in Los Angeles right on schedule. I grabbed my garment bag from the overhead compartment and rushed to meet my limo. My appointment with Helen was at 1:00 A.M. and Tina was waiting downtown at the Marriott. I was determined to kill two birds with one stone.
When I arrived at baggage claim, there was a tall distinguished-looking black man holding up a cardboard sign with my name neatly printed on it.
"Excuse me," I said, while extending my hand. "I'm Malcolm Tremell."
"Hello, Mr. Tremell. Allow me to take your bag."
"Thank you, Mr....?"
"My name is Allen," he said, "but everybody calls me Big Al."
"Well, let's go. I'm in a hurry!"
When I stepped outside the automatic doors, the brutal Los Angeles heat welcomed me home. June was always humid in southern California, even at night. Big Al wiped his forehead with a towel as he laid my garment bag inside the trunk of the freshly waxed black limousine. Then he politely opened my door.
Once inside the car, he buckled his seat belt and put the car in drive.
"Help yourself to a cold drink," he said while pulling out into traffic. "The bar is stocked with everything from cranberry juice to Moët."
"Don't mind if I do."
I poured myself a shot of Christian Brothers brandy and leaned back against the soft leather interior. As we merged onto Highway 105, I tuned the radio station in to 102.3. The deejay's sexy voice serenaded me as we maneuvered through the dense L.A. traffic.
"You're listening to KJLH," she announced. "Coming up next, your request for Anita Baker and Barry White. But first, an old-school classic by Kool and the Gang, 'Summer Madness.'" She paused as the intro began to play. "This song goes out to all you children of the night."
It was as if she were playing that song especially for me. I was definitely a child of the night, a moon child, a Cancer. It had been three days since I last saw daylight. My workdays began after 8:00 P.M. and ended before sunrise. On the days when I had no appointments, I kept my blinds shut and curtains drawn -- I lived like a vampire.
The drive downtown to the Marriott took thirty-five minutes. It was 9:55 P.M. and the clock was ticking. I gave Big Al instructions to pick me up at eleven-thirty then rushed into the hotel. Tina checked into Room 1001, like always. I hopped aboard the elevator hoping she was ready.
As I approached the room, I could smell the familiar aroma of jasmine incense burning. I knocked on the door and put my hand over the peephole.
"Who is it?" she asked apprehensively.
"It's the plumber, ma'am," I said, trying to disguise my voice. "We received a call that the sink was backed up."
"There's nothing wrong with my sink. Are you sure you have the right room?"
"I'm looking right at the job order, ma'am. It says Room 1001. Guest needs drain unstopped."
When I burst out laughing, she was on to me. Tina opened the door buck naked and popped me upside the head.
"Malcolm, you scared the hell out of me!"
"I'm sorry, baby. Let me make it up to you."
I backed her into the candlelit room and dropped my garment bag. Then I lifted her by the cheeks and carried her over to the bed.
"I love a man who knows how to take control," she said.
"And I love a woman who knows how to let a man be The Man." I gently laid her down on the bed and began taking off my clothes.
"Hurry up, Malcolm," she said while pulling at the buttons on my silk shirt. "I'm horny as hell."
"Slow down, baby. These clothes aren't cheap," I said while backing away. "Let me do this."
"Why are you worried about your damn shirt?" She sounded upset. "I can afford a thousand shirts."
What she really meant was her husband could afford a thousand shirts. Tina was going through an ugly divorce with a star point guard in the NBA. Every dime she had came out of his bank account.
I didn't want to ruin the mood so I poured two glasses of the Moët champagne she had chilling out on the terrace. Then I proposed a toast.
"Here's to six months of good conversation, good company, and great sex."
"I'll drink to that!" she said.
While I sipped on my drink, I casually looked over at the clock on the nightstand, it read ten-fifteen. I excused myself to the bathroom and immediately went into action. I hung my clothes neatly over the shower rod, brushed my teeth, shaved, and took a quick shower. Within ten minutes I was ready.
"It's about time," Tina said with an attitude.
"I promise you, it will be worth the wait."
I pulled a Trojan condom and a metal flask of baby oil out of my garment bag and heated the flask by the fire from the candle. "Turn over on your stomach, baby," I told her.
I poured the warm oil on her back and massaged it into her shoulders. Once she relaxed, I slowly ran my tongue from her lower back to the base of her neck.
"Ssss, do that again, baby," she begged.
"Say please," I insisted.
"Please, please, please, with sugar on top."
I used my tongue like a wet probe, boldly going where no man had gone before. Twenty minutes into the foreplay, Tina couldn't take it anymore. "Stop teasing, baby," she said, sighing. "Give it to me." I pushed her legs back toward the headboard as far as they would go then I dove in. The candlelight cast an erotic shadow onto the hotel room wall. It was like looking into a smoked mirror. I tried to concentrate but I kept staring at the silhouette of her body. With every flick of my tongue, she winced and quivered.
In a slow circular motion I ascended from her pierced belly button to her supple nipples. She inhaled, then turned her head to the side and let out a soft moan. "Oh, Malcolm, you feel so good. Don't stop. Please don't stop."
I moved my hand slowly down her long, smooth leg until I felt the warmth from within. I paused briefly to massage her, then I put on my condom and slid inside. Her head sprang up in one quick motion.
"Wha -- what are you doing?" she stuttered.
"I'm doing my job," I replied confidently.
She flopped back down onto the pillow and began to shake violently. Seconds later she let out a loud scream. "Oh, shit, that's the spot, baby, right there!" Her legs tensed as she grasped the sheets into her small fists. "I'm cumming. I'm cumming!" Tina bit down on her lip and frantically tossed her head from side to side. If there was an Academy Award for best orgasm she would have won, hands down. When it was over, she rolled onto her side, clutched the pillow between her legs, and dozed off. Talk about perfect timing. The clock read 10:55 P.M. Her time was up.
I grabbed my garment bag and stepped into the bathroom. While the bathwater ran, I pulled out my black book to confirm my next appointment. I recalled writing 1:20 A.M. but my notation read: Helen -- Melvin's Jazz Club -- 12:00 A.M. "So much for a long, hot bath!" I said in disgust.
I pulled the shower lever and quickly jumped in. While I washed in the hot drizzle, I tried to relax. The four-hour flight in from Chicago had me worn out. I thought about canceling my ...
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