Chapter 1: New Beginnings?
Friday, December 31, 2005, 11:55p
632 N Dearborn St., Excalibur Castle Chicago Dance Club
Bodies filled all five levels of the massive venue, and the music growled from the belly of the loudspeakers. Excalibur once again managed to stuff every available body into the three-level club. Blue, green, red, and yellow lights beamed from above the DJ table and hung from the second and third floors and illuminating the pack of intoxicated bodies on the ground floor.
“Erica girl where you been? It’s about to start.”
Tina turned away from the bar to face the short woman of milk chocolate complexion and short hair. Her body filled out the black dress as the woman waved her hot face.
Tina laughed; the women couldn’t hear themselves over the music.
“It’s about to start. The countdown!” yelled Tina in Erica’s ear.”
“Wait, lemme get my drink.”
“Girl please, time don’t wait for nobody you better c’mon.”
Tina jumped down from the barstool.
“Grey Goose Martini and a plain cranberry juice,” shouted Erica to the bartender who smiled and winked.
A crowd of people began to surround the main stage as it prepared to lower the huge crystal ball to the middle of the floor.
“I need yall to make some noise,” boomed the voice of the Emcee from the microphone, sending the crowd into hysteria.
“C’mon E,” said Tina, watching as the bartender handed Erica her drink and the woman wobbled over to her. The women stumbled toward the stage, laughing.
“Here we go!” yelled the DJ.
“Whew” yelled Tina, laughing. It had been a long time since she had this much fun.
“I love you Chicago!” screamed Erica. Tina laughed. She was tripping on that drink.
“We love you!”
“I love you too baby,” said the DJ.
“Whew!” laughed Erica and Tina.
“Ten…nine…” began the DJ.
“Eight…” said Erica.
“Seven…” said Tina.
“Six…” said the crowd.
As the crowd sang along something caught Tina’s eye. A man stood in the distance. Wearing a black suit and tie he is oddly out of place and looked to Tina to belong in a courtroom, not a club. The sound around her went mute and her mind raced to decipher the identity of the strange man. After spending a year in therapy, she had tried to forget about her now fading past.
Purposefully considering her sanity, she had not expected to walk into Erica’s office to receive such a down to earth reality check from a doctor who was now dancing out her dress in a club with her patient. As such, Tina took this as a sign that things were finally back to normal, taking hallucinogenic suppressants as prescribed and even cutting off any ties to the former life.
But now, as the club lights bounced off the hint of blue that gleamed even in the darkness, she remembered Malaki’s words like it was yesterday. “What happened to Ronnie…was no accident. I saw Ja’mella’s eyes, the …they were blue.” That’s when they knew there were women too.
“HAPPY NEW YEAR!”
The crowd’s shout startled her and forced Tina to take a step back. Erica hugged her and spilled some of her drink.
“Damn, messing with you.”
Tina smiled to conceal her changed demeanor, but it was too late.
“Hey girl, you alright?”
Tina’s eyes darted frantically around the club for the man, but he was gone.
“Yea girl, I’m good,” she said waving her hand.
“You sure? You been taking the pills, right? Don’t let me have to write yo butt up.”
Stealing one more glance in the direction where the blue-eyed man stood, there was no one there.
“Yea girl, I’m alright,” Tina waved, “where’s the bathroom though?” she said with laughter to fake the fear that already started to grow the tiny hairs on her skin, the sweat already creeping its way down her back. Tina gripped her purse as Erica pointed in the direction of the ladies’ room. She was definitely in need of a double dose tonight.