In chapter 12 of Basketball Jones, AJ and Dray have a huge argument about who is, indeed, blackmailing Dray, Dray displays his lack of thinking ability, and I place my Sherlock Holmes cap on and give all the characters a good scrutinizing for suspects. Intrigued? It’s time for Kingett to read Basketball Jones.
In this chapter, nothing happens that advances the narrative in any way but this is a good thing because it gives me a chance to really take a break from all the action and utilize what I have learned thus far about the characters to try and wheedle down who the blackmailer is.
Chapter 12 consists of AJ and Dray getting into an argument that lasts the whole chapter. Dray doesn’t even suspect the most plausible suspects, but thinks that AJ has something to do with this because AJ may want to have more money from Dray without knowing how to ask. I don’t know how to even run with that thought, so I will just smile, shake my head at Dray—even though I can understand why he is upset—and display some of my own deductions. There isn’t anything to glean from the argument since I am actually a bit smarter than AJ and a whole lot smarter than Dray, so I could possibly figure out the blackmailer before the book is over, but I digress. I could very well be wrong about everything that I am about to say here. I’d love to hear your thoughts.
When AJ returns home, Dray shows him the note that he received.
The words weren’t handwritten or typed out, but spelled with letters someone had cut out from magazine and newspapers and pasted to the page.
What will your fans say if they knew you were on the low with AJ? What would the owners of the New Orleans Hornets say? What would your father say? And what would your wifey do? If you don’t want to find out, then I would get ready to reduce your big bank account by one hundred thousand dollars. Will be in contact soon Mr. DL Basketball Superstar.
I’d like to begin by saying that this is a really unique way to make a note, because whoever the blackmailer is knows AJ and he also knows that AJ isn’t a dummy. Let me explain my way of thinking. By printing a note in this manner, this makes the sender practically undetectable. If they did indeed type the note on a computer, then surely the police would be able to trace suspects even if they do not use the internet. It would be easier to catch whoever the blackmailer is because someone would be actively looking Dray up and keeping tabs on him. Also, the police would know that there would be stuff on the hard drive or in archives that would, eventually, point to Dray. Someone could use a computer to keep track of when and where Dray plays, and that would be a viable paper trail towards the blackmailer. Even if they didn’t use the internet at all, they would still have some documents that would possibly outline this entire thing, either directly or indirectly, so this method is really clever because it makes the person who’s threatening Dray almost indistinguishable. For starters, when someone writes something, they tend to write how they speak, so if the two boys were smart (I don’t think they really are), then AJ and Dray could deduce the sender by the vocabulary in the note if it were typed out, as well as the spelling and grammatical structure.
This method is completely hiding the person. Anyone could clip out words and paste them to a page, and this could be done anywhere, even in a public place, though that would be a bit odd. Still, though, whoever is doing this has some brains. Who’s doing it, though? Let’s break down all the viable suspects.
I’m going to exclude Mo because he’s my husband, and he can do no wrong at all. He’s innocent… I’m going to elude AJ as well, obviously. Mo doesn’t even know who Dray is. Now, let’s get into the analysis!
Ah, Judy, the lovely wife to Dray, who is pregnant with his baby. What does she have to gain, except from more money? Before I really get into the examination of the answer, let’s look at who she is as a person and what we have seen from her thus far.
AJ met her early on in the book. From the brief encounter, I noticed that she really loves having a rich boyfriend who just happened to be black. Judy seems to be the kind of person who just loves bragging about anything and everything she has because she kept touting Dray in the store as if he were her prized trophy… she could be blackmailing Dray just to get whatever out a him, but that would be beyond stupid because she is pregnant with his baby. I don’t think that would be very easy to deal with if Dray ever did find out that the letters were from her. Obviously, she has a lot of things to lose, but she isn’t the brightest bulb in the box either, so perhaps she is doing this anyway because she wants more money out of him. It’s very possible, because she would love to flaunt that money around, even though Dray would notice that she’s got even more expensive items. He isn’t exactly smart, but he isn’t a total dimwit. The motive is there, but she has a lot to lose by doing this and keeping it up. It would be a full-time job, along with caring for the baby, but she has a valid motive to do so even if it is shallow. In her head it would be valid.
Jade, the psychic. She could very well be in on it, except for the bit about his father. What would your father say? That’s what the note said above. Jade is new in town, even though she is the perfect profile for someone who wishes to blackmail. She pries and she avoids a lot of AJ’s direct questions about her past. She’s obviously running from something, someone, or something that she did. Jade is here because it’s a new kind of start for her, but why? I am guessing that she did some bad things and she decided to make a clean slate… she’s doing this in order to get rid of the bad deacons that she left behind, and she could have even caused them. Even though she never did say she had problems at home, or back home, she didn’t answer AJ when he asked about her past, repeatedly. This isn’t right and it tells me that she has something to hide.
She could be the blackmailer simply because she wants a big buck. The one thing I’d argue with myself about is the fact that the note says, “What would your father say,” implying that the person knows Dray’s family, and Judy fits that bill more than Jade at this point. Although, Jade could have deduced all of this from talking with AJ, but I don’t know. I’m thinking that she’s an accomplice of some kind because I bet you she agreed to do this because she needs money, hence, why she is after some rich ballplayer. She may not have an immediate involvement in this, but she could very well be the brains behind everything since she did tell AJ that she always gets what she wants. This implies that she knows how to manipulate people, and she could use this knowledge with Judy in order to get even more moment out a Dray.
Jade, however, is new to the town, so she would have to meet Judy somewhere. Judy would spill that she is with Dray, and AJ acts weird around her when she asks about a boyfriend. It could easily be deduced that Dray and AJ are together, with two women who know each of the men.
Ah, the scum trainer. Obviously the most likely here, as Dray hired him through a recommendation by his cousin. The comment about Dray’s father could easily be obtained without letting it slip that Dray is gay, and/or bisexual. Cisco could pretend to come out to Dray’s cousin, whereby Dray’s cousin could immediately blurt out that Dray has a dad who hates the LGBT community. That would be all the information he would need. Cisco is already in contact with Dray’s cousin, therefore he theoretically has access to his father as well. Perhaps Judy and Cisco are working together so that way she can get more money. I can’t see any reason why Cisco would not do this. He’s a low life, but he isn’t a dummy. Cisco knows what buttons to push simply because he has access to things that the others don’t have access to.
This could also be a big slap in the face to AJ, because he knew that outing Dray would make AJ miserable. Dray wouldn’t know how to handle it, so he may leave AJ, and then AJ would have to fend for himself in the aftermath. He has the motive, the means, and he certainly has the information. I believe that it’s Cisco who’s blackmailing Dray, thereby destined to ruin AJ for saying no to him having sex with AJ. That has got to be the most sadistic thing that I have ever heard of, but it works, and, surely, it would work, but I wonder what will happen to AJ when stuff hits the fan. That’s who my sympathy lies with, because Dray did this all to himself, kept digging this huge hole. I am excited to read what happens next week!