I was making love to En Vogue.
Not the group, but one majestic woman in a royal blue negligee. She had Cindy's intelligent smile, Maxine's sexy disposition, Terri's womanly grace. Her negligee slipped off her shoulders, slid down across her breasts. Inside her moan, she sang my name. Inched me toward her warm soul.
Dana hummed with the feeling. "You love me, Vince?"
Okay, I was about to tell you my name, but I guess Dana beat me to the punch. Vincent Calvary Browne Jr. And the woman I was holding, the one who had my face flushed, toes curling while I sang her name, the angel who was squirming ever so slowly in pleasure, that was my woman. The one I wanted to have forever. The last one I ever wanted to make love to.
I'm almost thirty and don't have a lot of family. Not now anyway. Not since my divorce. Not since Moms and Pops died. Moms had colon cancer and it spread up. That was when I was nineteen. Pops had it in his throat and it spread down. That was right after I made sixteen. Moms didn't have me until she was almost forty; Pops was in his fifties. So I guess I came from an old egg and some old sperm. That's why people always tell me I have an old soul. People have always said that I acted and sounded ten years older than I was. A baritone voice makes anybody sound older. But I've always felt ten years younger. Mistakes make a man feel like that. Hard living and bad loving ages a man.
Divorce ranks right up there with death, so I've lost more in a few years than most men lose in a lifetime. The biggest loss was when my ex-wife had an affair, divorced me, then vanished with my little girl.
I met Dana a few months back, up at the Townhouse. That's a soul food restaurant that doubles as party central up in Ladera, a black middle-class part of Los Angeles not too far from LAX. That night Jaguars, Rolls-Royces, and Benzs were corralled at the east end of the strip mall, dark-haired Mexicans doing the valet parking. The club had a live band up front, playing sassy, Marlena Shaw-style jazz. An unknown all-girl hip-hop group, Dangerous Lyrics, was supposed to hit the small stage in the back room a little later.
In the meantime, a D.J. was keeping the flow going in the rear. A few sisters were under thirty, maybe under twenty-five, most showing as much flesh as legal. And a few were the victims of gravity and time: old babes in young dresses. This was where the generation gap collided over jazz and drinks. A few brothers had some age on them too; older-than-dirt players who were strutting around, Poli-Grip on their breath, acting like they knew they were still the shit. If this was a meat market, some of this beef needed an expiration date.
It was easy to make eye contact with the lonely and brokenhearted. I know because I was one of them. Hell, I was both of them. Right before Dana drifted into the room, I was kinda leery about trying to start a conversation, because I'd just gotten a rejection slip from one sister.
Earlier that night I'd met this long-legged creature with stilettos and a slinky dress. She'd come to me while I lingered at the bar in the back room. Said she worked at UPS, been there ten years. Her Bugs Bunny overbite said that she hadn't taken advantage of her dental plan, but the more I drank, the less that was a problem for me. She was perky and had personality. Stood out from the women who were clinging to dirty old men twice their daddy's ages. She made at least twenty duckets an hour, bragged about her 500-series BMW, even showed me a Polaroid of her new ride, but was crying broke because of the twelve-dollar cover charge.
We danced on the itty-bitty wooden floor, grooved to Blackstreet and Mary J. Blige, then hung out close to the fireplace and had a damn good time for the left side of thirty minutes. Bought her two glasses of wine while we laughed about this and that. Her eyes were all over my dark suit and off-white linen shirt, flirting strong, and my mack was on target, more persuasive than Johnny Cochran's closing argument.
Copyright © 2000 Eric Jerome Dickey. All rights reserved.
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