Angela thought she could get away with this game but she could not. We could not avoid seeing each other no matter how much she tried. She had to walk by elevators. I had to take the elevators up to the floor I worked on. Our eyes met. She had a sad look. A look like she missed me. I am sure I had the same look also but I was not going to make a move towards her.
We continued this cat and mouse game every day. Staring at each other but not talking. It was killing me inside. I would be satisfied with just being a friend. I needed an outlet. Rosa was extremely busy with school and I barely saw her. I had no other friends I could talk to. Sue was in her own world as she was almost finished with her Master’s degree and planning to do her doctorate. Her boyfriend also took up most of her free time. Sometimes I missed Uncle Teddy. With all his bad habits and behavior as an unwelcome guest he was a distraction from life’s worries. He was happy go lucky especially when he had a drink. He used to call us once a month but we have not heard from him in while.
I did not want to reach out to anyone but I needed to. There was another Jamaican that worked in the office. His name was Brian. We had talked about going to lunch together a few times. I had avoided it because I really did not like him much. He was very “cocky” and would constantly talk about what he had and his conquests. He drove a nice convertible BMW and would brag about the speed and how many women it got him. He would brag about his women “conquests” and how many women he had around town. You could never get a word in when you met with him as his conversations were always focused on him. What made it even worse was that he used to attend Priory when he lived in Jamaica. My school, Campion, was where most of the rich children went to school but Priory is where the super rich went to school. There was a bit of rivalry between my school and his. He would find any opportunity to bring it up. There is so much of him I could take. I would occasional walk over to his office just to hear him get on his soapbox to break the routine for the day. Within 10 minutes I would be gone. There is so much of him I could take.
I needed a distraction from Rosa and Angela so I walked over to his office.
He was not there. I was disappointed and relieved at the same time. As I turned to walk away I saw him coming back. Should I turn back and go pass his office and walk away. Should I wait on him? It was too late. He saw me and called out.
“I was just coming back from a meeting with David Simmons to discuss some of my ideas he wants to implement” he was bragging and name dropping. David Simmons was the company CEO. I had never met him before. I had seen him but I was very low on the corporate “food chain” to mingle with him. Brian was throwing it in my face. I ignored it and patronized him.
“Congrats, I remember you telling me about this last month”, I knew he loved people stroking his ego.
He then proceeded to tell me about all the things he is doing to make the company better and that he would soon get a promotion. He talked about how much David Simmons wants him to be a part of a new team to head the opening of a new location. I was half listening to him brag and half thinking about why I came over to his office. My mind was on Angela.
“Let’s go to lunch, my treat”
“Sure” I replied before I realized what I just did.
“Okay, let go”, It was close to lunch time so we headed out.
We walked out to the building over to his car. It was a brand new 1994 BMW with all the extras. We drove out of the parking lot and he proceeded to tell me all about the car. It had some really cool features. I was not paying attention to where we were going until we pulled up in front of the Jamaican restaurant that Angela and I had our first kiss. It was ironic but I was also a bit surprised. Brian seemed to be Jamaican when it was convenient. He always talked about the exotic foods he eats. I remember him saying he loved sushi. He was half-Chinese and half-black but his features were like a brown skin Hispanic with straight hair. Basically he had no obvious features that would let anyone know he had any “black blood”.
“It’s been a long time since I had Jamaican food. I heard about this place from someone at work”, he said “have you been here before?”.
I hesitated before I answered. Then I responded.
“No,” I wanted to forget the memory of the place.
Over lunch he continued to talk about himself and his new condo in Aventura which was an upscale area in North Miami Beach. It was on the beach. He was on the 20 floor with a view of the beach. He talked about his other conquests but then mentioned he now had a new main girl friend. She was a Swedish model. I was trying to stare at him and listen but my mind was drowning him out. I could not focus. My mind kept coming back to the last time I was here and the kiss in the parking lot. I would do anything to go back in time and change that day just to speak to Angela. Our friendship was very important. There was no one else I could be more comfortable around than her. I know they normally say you have to sleep with someone to have them “whipped” but she had me “whipped” for her companionship.
“I am going to a club tonight, you want to come?”,
“Yeah” I replied. I had nothing doing and need any type of distraction. I did not care where he was going.
Brian took my address. He then mentioned and I should wear a jacket over any shirt I am wearing. He said it would impress the ladies. Impressing ladies was not my intention. I was only going along for the ride.
Brian arrived at my house wearing a sandy brown suit with an open button red shirt. He looked like he was in Miami Vice. I wore a black suit with a turtle neck shirt.
We left my house for at 10:00pm that night. We were going to South Beach. It was the new hot spot in Miami. There was a Jamaican club called 5th Street there but I had a feeling that is not where were going.
The ride down to South Beach was quick. Brian sped all the way down on the I-95. I knew he was showing off but the car felt real good.
Brian slowed down once we were on the main road called Ocean Drive. He wanted to profile. He took down the roof so he could profile. Even though it was mid week there were a few people walking around. I saw 2 men holding hands and giggling like lovers. As we passed by them one of them winked at us. Not surprising as South Beach was a gay friendly place.
We arrived at the Clevelander where Brian had his car valet parked. It was an old hotel that had a bar and outside club. There was live music that night. Brian was moving around like he knew the place. He greeted a few women with kisses and headed to the bar. I followed. He ordered a drink and asked me if I wanted something. I had a rum cream.
“If you see a girl you like order her a drink”
That was not my plan. I took in the scene. It was mainly a crowd of young white and Hispanic people. The band was playing mainly soft rock and salsa music. Not my favorite.
Brian walked away and was mingling with a three white girls at the other side of the bar. He bought them around of drinks. They were laughing and seem to be having fun. I was glued to my seat. I felt uncomfortable and out of place. The people around me seemed superficial. My suit was also feeling a little hot. This was not like the clubs I used to go to.
On the dance floor there were 2 women dancing closely and necking. I did not realize I was staring at them until Brian interrupted me.
“I found some girls do you want to join us? They want to dance.”
I went over to the group of girls he found and we started dancing in a group.
Suddenly Brian grabbed my arm and whispered “Let’s go to the other side of the bar”.
“Where are you going” one of the girls asked.
“We will be right back” Brian responded.
We abruptly left the girls. They did not seem to mind.
Then someone caught my eye. It was a tall blond girl in a black skin tight mini skirt. She had the attention of the whole club. I could see the head of the men swinging and the women taking a glimpse. She was “strutting” her stuff. And she did have stuff. She was gorgeous. The type of girl you only see in the movies or on magazine covers.
She was heading in our direction. She must be coming to get a drink. We would certainly get an eyeful.
Then she stopped in front of Brian and their lips locked.
He turned to me “Meet my girlfriend Annika”
Wow. I was speechless. This was the Swedish model he was talking about. He must have not known she would be there and that is why we had to abruptly leave.
“This is my friend who I was telling you about.”
She stretches out her arm and shook my hand. Her hands were soft.
“Pleased to meet you”, she replied with her heavy European accent.
Brian interjected, “I think he wanted to show he was in control”
“Annika is staying here on South Beach. She is doing a photo shot on the beach”
I shook my head and sat down at the bar.
They went out to the dance floor and started to dance; very suggestively. They were all over each other. She was rubbing him down and his hands were firmly placed on her butt.
I walked around a bit as I was getting a little bored with the scene. Eventually I went back to my perch at the bar.
Brian and Annika were coming off the dance floor.
“I will be back” Brian was going to the bathroom
Annika sat beside me.
“How long have you lived her?” she asked.
“Too long”, I joked. My defenses as an illegal alien are always up.
“Do you miss Jamaica?” she asked
“Yes” I replied
“I visited once. It is a very beautiful country. You have beautiful people. Yeah Mon. I like Rasta.” She smiled. I knew where the conversation was going. She was probably going to ask if I smoked ganja.
“I would love to visit Sweden” I was trying to head off the Jamaica conversation.
“You should, Brian will be coming soon”
“I hear the chocolate in Sweden is great”, as soon as I said it I realized I slipped up. Switzerland is the European country that was famous for chocolate.
“Do you like chocolate?” I asked.
She leaned over and whispered in my ear grabbing my groin through my pants.
“Yes, I like dark chocolate” she whispered in my ear in a very sexually tone.
She was coming on to me.
My ego was bursting. I was impressed but a little shocked. Brian was giving her “bun” and she was also giving him “bun”
“Brian is in the bathroom doing “snow”. Do you want to meet me later?”
Wow. It was another bombshell. Brian was doing coke.
“Are you ready to go?” Brain appeared out of nowhere.
“Yes” I replied.
He kissed Annika and told her he would be back. He started to walk away.
“Nice meeting you. Bye” she kissed me on my cheek. Then she hugged me pressing and rubbing her breast against my chest.
As we got in the car I tried to see if there were signs. He was in the bathroom for a while.
I tried to look into his eyes. They said drug users normally have glassy eyes. It was dark. I could not see his eyes. He sped all the way to my apartment. He did not say much.
He was not acting like any of the people I saw on coke in the movies like New Jack City or Jungle Fever. Weed was acceptable to most Jamaicans but coke and crack was taboo. This was especially true amongst Rastafarians. I just could not see him doing coke or crack but I could not swear by it.
The next day I saw him. He came by my office.
We chatted a little and then he mentioned
“I am going to a party down South this weekend do you want to ride”
Travelling “down south” meant going to south Miami.
He picked me up at the same time.
“We are going to make a stop before we go down south”
“Where?” I asked.
“You will see” he replied
We pulled up in front of Tootsies Strip joint in North Miami. It was not my first time in a strip joint. Richie used to stop at the strip joint before going to the club. It was a way to get the “juices” following before trying to meet some girls at the club.
The difference with this club it had mainly white dancers. It was funny because some of them had no rhythm.
After about 10 minutes in the “joint” Brian disappeared. He reappeared 20 minutes later. Now I was starting to have suspicions. Maybe he did have a habit.
We left for south Miami and were there in less than 40 minutes. The party was at a home. It was mainly Chinese Jamaicans. A lot of them lived down South. The story about their migration was, when Michael Manley was in power he told business people they can get on the first flight to Miami if they did not like the direction the country was going. There was a mass exodus of Chinese Jamaicans to South Miami.
The music was good. They had hired Waggy Tee a famous Chinese Jamaican DJ.
I saw a few people who I went to school with at Campion College. I was not surprised as this was an uptown Jamaican crowd. I reminisced with a few of them. We talked about where people were. I avoided talking about what I did or my last visit to Jamaica. Each time a conversation was going in that direction I would change the topic. I realized that since moving here I moved with a different crowd. I was not an “uptowner “anymore.
Brian had disappeared again.
There was a guy at the party that looked familiar. I could not figure out where I knew him from. I had a bad feeling about him.
Inside was a little smoke so I walked outside.
Brian was outside smoking a cigarette. He had a beer in his hand and was talking to a girl. She was not standing close to him so I figure she was not one of his “girlfriends”. As soon as he saw me he beckoned me over and introduced me.
“Meet Corrine, excuse me I will be back” He quickly walked away.
She was a beautiful Chinese Jamaican.
It was awkward.
“Where in Jamaica are you from?” I asked.
“I used live in Cherry Gardens.”
She attended Immaculate Conception. We talked a little bit. She was studying at the Art Institute of Miami to be a fashion designer. It was an engaging conversation. She did not like the party scene and was “dragged” there by a cousin. I spent the whole night talking with her while Brian was in the house partying. We connected.
Brian came out of the house. It was time to go.
It was also another awkward moment. I wanted to speak to Corrine again but could not. I could ask her for a phone number but I would be setting the wrong expectation. I did not want to lead her on.
“Nice meeting you” I said
“See you” she replied
I looked at her and she looked back at me.
She was expecting me to ask for her number.
Brian nudged me.
“Can I call you sometime?”
She wrote her number down on a napkin.
As we drove back home Brian started to brag. He talked about how he laid the ground work for me to meet Corrine that she was really nice. He talked about the girls at the party he slept with. I was drowning him out but then Brain said something that caught my attention. He was bragging about the girls he had on the side.
“Some these girls are freak they want it all the time. I have a little freak on the side; her name is Sherri-Ann Kong, a married woman. She is wild. Her husband was at the party.”
Now I remember who the guy I saw at the party. It was Sherri-Ann Kong’s husband. She was giving him “bun” again. I tried not to draw attention to myself but I am sure Brian saw the shock on my face. It was too late.
“You went to Campion. You know her?” he asked.
The look on my face already told the story. I could not lie.
“Yeah” I said slowly trying to make it look un-important.
Brian asked a blunt question which I think he did jokingly not expecting a reply from me. “Whappen yuh sleep wid ar?”.
“Yeah” I replied. What I should have done was say no. But I did not. He was bragging about his escapes and many girls. I wanted to have a “ones man up” on him and deflate his ego. I also needed something to boost my ego with all I was going through. It was a big mistake.
Brian went silent. I think he was shocked. I had one up on him.
Then I inserted my foot in my mouth.
“How well do you know Annika?”
“Why do you ask?”
“Just think you should be careful. She seems like a flirt”
“You are just jealous of me?”
“No, man just looking out for you”
“Did she flirt with you. Tell me?”
“You are lying” I could smell the beer on his breath.
“No she did not” I replied.
Why did I open this can of worms. I vowed never to get involved in other peoples relationship. When people are in love they do irrational things. I know because I have been irrational since reconnecting with Angela.
“I think you are jealous of me” he was driving faster.
Suddenly blue lights appeared behind us. It was the police, Florida state troopers. It was my worst nightmare, I did not want to draw attention to myself. Then a second pair of lights appeared.
Brian pulled over. We were on the Florida Turnpike which was a major highway but not very well lit.
A loud speaker blared. “Step out of the car with your hands up”
We both go out the car following the police’s instructions.
My heart was racing. Is this the end? Will I be turned over to immigration by the police?
“Lay down on the ground beside the car with your hands behind your back.”
We followed the instruction.
I heard footsteps coming towards me.
Next I felt handcuff on my wrists. I could smell the rubber on the ground.
“Do not move”
As we lay there they asked for our identification. I directed them to my back pocket. I felt my wallet being removed.
I was placed in the back of one car and Brian in another. We could see the police searching the car. The cop that placed me in the car was checking my license.
They took Brian out of the back of the police car and were talking to him in an angry tone. He was then asked to walk a straight line.
“What is your name?” the cop asked me.
I told him. He asked a few more questions about where I lived and where we were coming from. I answered each question ending with “sir”. Ritchie used to tell me that the more respect you give the police the easier they will be on you; especially if the cops are white like the ones today.
“Your friend is drunk and we have to take him in”
“Were you drinking?”
“No sir” I replied. I always tried not to drink when I go out as I never wanted to be in a situation like this one. If I did drink it was something light like a “brown cow”. I never drank anything strong.
He did not give me a test. He seemed to believe me.
“Is there someone you can call to pick you up”
He took me out of the handcuffs. At that point a wrecker pulled up. Brian was left in handcuffs and was in the back of the other car.
“Give me the phone number”
Rosa was the only one I could call. I gave him the number
He called from his cell phone. He explained to her that I was a passenger with a drunk driver. As he told her the mile marker of our location the police car with Brian drove away.
The wait in the back of the police car for Rosa to pick me up seemed like an eternity. I heard stories before about state troopers checking on the immigration status of Jamaicans. They did this because of the drug war in the 80’s between the Jamaican posses called the Spranglers and Shower. Posses
Rosa finally arrived. I got in her car and we drove off. She was silent. She was upset.
I was happy but could not show it. I prefer her being upset than me being deported. She will get over it.
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