Before I got cozy she said, "I'm meeting somebody up here."
East Coast. I recognized that metropolitan accent, flair, picked up on the bright lights, big city tone in her words. That with her straight back and straightforward posture, her urbane style, made her so different from the rest. Made her mysterious, exotic, and fascinating in my eyes.
She wasn't a born and raised L.A. woman. I didn't know if that was good or bad. Based on my track record with West Coast women, it had to be good.
I said, "Place is pretty crowded. You see 'im?"
"Not a he, a she. Geraldine"she caught herself"I mean Gerri Greene. We work in the same real estate office."
Nervousness ran through my blood, a fresh heat dried my throat. Her buddy's name sounded too damn familiar. I wondered if her friend knew my ex-wife, or me, for that matter.
I asked, "She married?"
"Divorced." Dana checked her watch. "She should've come by now. I should page her before she gets here and wastes twelve bucks."
"Uh-oh. What's wrong?"
Dana looked at the clientele, frowned. "No curb appeal."
"Don't look good from the outside. Real estate talk."
"Somebody call George Lucas, this looks like a Chewbacca convention."
She went on with her ranking: "And that sister over there needs to quit getting dressed in the dark. She has on more colors than a pack of Skittles. Quick, somebody give Grandma Cellulite a fun house mirror."
Comical. Intelligent, thick, bedroom voice that made a brother wonder what she sounded like when she whispered sweet things. Perfume dabbed behind her ears, in the crevice of her breasts. Long black braids pulled away from her face, clipped in place. Nails clear, not overdone with a million colors. One small diamond in each ear. Classic, classy, smooth.
And she had a job. She gets bonus points for being gainfully employed.
I wanted to know, "How did you end up in real estate?"
"I have an older cousin, Dawn, who was out here doing real estate. Did it for about ten years. Hubby dumped her for a singer. Dawn moved back to New York after she divorced, but always talked about how great the market was out here. Guess I wanted to pick up where she left off."
A waitress dressed in fake black leather, a purple wig, and a top that made her breasts look like pyramids stopped in our faces holding a tray of shots: "Would you like to try a Crown Royal tonight?"
I shook my head and asked Dana if she wanted a drink, my treat. She wanted a 7UP. I took out my wallet, invested four dollars in my future.
We moved over by the light blue rails and white walls, watched people who had denied their last ten birthdays struggle with a Lauryn Hill groove, and fell into the typical conversation people have when they're sizing each other up: the age, what do you do to make your ends meet, where you from thing. Told her I was twenty-eight, born July 17, in Pasadena. In between singing along, Dana said she was born at Mount Sinai, June 14, twenty-seven years ago, had packed up and come out here by herself.
I'm a moody Cancer and she's an unpredictable Gemini.
Fire and dynamite. A dangerous combination in any season.
Mid-sentence, she stopped and motioned. "There's Gerri."
Dana waved at an amazon of a woman who had on dark linen pants, white blouse. A small waist, everything the right size, in the right places. Cinnamon skin, round face, freckles, light brown hair in a bob. I saw all of that while Dana's buddy made her way through a crowd of ancient brothers who hovered over her like vultures on a prairie. Four men tried to stop her stroll; four men were ignored.
Copyright © 2000 Eric Jerome Dickey. All rights reserved.
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