It’s Saturday night and I’m at a pub with my friends, Ronald and his wife, Juanita. We are having a great time. I haven’t laughed in a long time–not since I learned that Pamela was really my sister or since she died. It felt good to be with people I cared about again and to laugh. I didn’t feel guilty. As Juanita said, I had to live again. And laughter is good for the soul, they say. Pamela was always laughing. And she would be if she were here now.
After having spicy wings and fries, we shot pool and had a couple of beers. It felt really good to be socializing again. The other couple who were there were Juanita’s co-worker, Lourdes and her husband, Francois. They were from Haiti. Very nice people. Janelle hadn’t shown up as yet. Juanita shook her head, “She’s always showing up late.”
I learned that Ronald’s niece, Janelle was a model. I was curious to meet her. I had never met a model before. “I’m going to get another beer, “I announced to the group. Would any of you like me to get you another drink?”
They all shook their heads. “I’m good,” Ronald said, holding up his half full glass. Everyone else hadn’t finished their drinks. So, I excused myself and went to the bar. While I was waiting, I could feel someone staring at me. I turned and I saw her. A very pretty black girl in her early to mid-twenties. She stood there watching me. I didn’t know whether to smile or turn away. I wasn’t there to meet or to be picked up by a woman. I decided to turn away. I got my beer and was about to walk away from the bar when she came up to me. This close, she was very pretty.
“Hi,” she said. “Do you have the time?”
I glanced at my watch. “It’s half-past ten.”
“I had no idea that it was that late. I had a photo shoot and it took much longer than I expected. After it was done, I had to take the train back to my flat. It was crazy trying to get a taxi. You see, I don’t drive. Any way I was supposed to meet my uncle and aunt and friends but I don’t see them.” She looked around.
I stared at her. “Are you Janelle?” I asked.
She looked surprised that I knew her name. “Yes. Do I know you?”
“No, but I know your uncle and aunt and I can take you to them.”
“Oh. Thank you. What’s your name?”
“Colin. Are you going to buy a drink before we join them?”
“Sure. I’ll have a virgin Pena Colada.”
“I’ll get it for you. Do you mind holding my beer?”
“No. Here, let me give you some money.”
“It’s on me,” I said.
She smiled. “Thanks.”
I gave her my drink and went to the bar to get hers. Then, we joined the others.
After they hugged and wondered why she was so late, Juanita said, “I see that you’ve met Colin.”
Janelle turned to look at me. “Yes. We met and he bought me a drink.”
Juanita exchanged looks with Ronald and then looked at me. “That was very nice of him,” she said to Janelle who was still staring at me.
She came over and stood in front of me, her eyes meeting mine squarely. “So, how do you know my uncle and aunt?” she asked when the others returned to shooting pool and chatting.
“Your uncle and I work together and I met your aunt when I was invited to dinner. We have been friends for over seven years now.”
“So, what’s your story?” she asked.
I stared at her blankly. “What do you mean?”
“Do you have a wife or a girlfriend–a lady friend?”
“I’m not married nor in a relationship.” I wondered if I looked as uncomfortable as I felt. I was not used to a woman being so direct and so personal. “Tell me how long have you been a model,” I said to change the subject.
She told me that she went into the modeling business after graduating from university. She told me about the ups and down of being a model and that she was going to leave it at the end of the year. “I’m tired of being the only black model on most of my shoots and photographers hitting on me and the racist remarks. Modelling isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.”
“What are you going to do after you quit?”
“I plan to become a Wardrobe Stylist.”
“What does a Wardrobe Stylist do?” I asked, perplexed. I had no idea that such a job even existed.
“Wardrobe stylists help clients determine which clothes work well with their personal styles so clients always look their best. They often attend fashion shows.”
“Sounds interesting,” I said.
“So, Colin, what are you doing tomorrow?”
“Nothing,” I said.
“I’d like to take you out for dinner tomorrow to The Fat Bear which is considered to be one of the best American restaurants in London for Cajun, Creole, Southern and Soul Food.”
“Is this a date?” I asked warily.
“No. We’re just going to be two people hanging out and enjoying a good meal together. No funny business, I promise.”
I relaxed. “All right.” I was actually looking forward to seeing her again.
We talked for a long time and then it was time for me to call it a night. I offered to give her a ride home but she declined. “Thanks, Colin,” she said, “but I’ll stay and hang out with my Aunt and Uncle for a while longer. They will give me a ride home. It was really, really nice meeting you. Thanks again for the drink.”
I smiled. “You’re welcome.”
She reached up and kissed me on the cheek. “Good night.”
“Goodnight,” I said quietly. The smile was gone from my face. I watched her as she walked away. I zipped up my jacket and went out into the cool night air. I touched my cheek where her lips had been.
This is the sequel for Living Again.