Joel, Erin and Kenya sensed the same thing. They thought of how much the world sucked and how perfect the world they had created behind closed doors was. They stood still looking very uncomfortable. They looked like they wanted to leave, but decided to stay. No matter what, the food looked and smelled too good to abandon.
Erin looked at Mrs. Rhodes and said in a comical way, “We're just gonna return to our table.”
Kenya smiled and said, “Yeah, it was nice meeting you.”
Mrs. Rhodes didn't say a word. She just shot them a mean look. She looked at Joel and said, “Please, sit down for a minute. We seriously need to talk.”
Joel had his flaws, but bad manners wasn't one of them. He looked at Erin and Kenya and said, “It's okay. I'll join the two of you at our table in a few minutes.”
They gave him smiles and nods of approval and then quickly cut their eyes at Mrs. Rhodes to let her know that they weren't pushovers.
As soon as the girls walked away, Mrs. Rhodes focused all of her attention on Joel. In a condescending tone she asked, “What are you doing with yourself? Better yet, I should be asking, what are you doing with those two?”
Without hesitation he said, “Having the time of my life ... and I mean it. I've never been happier. Things are less complicated with those two than it was with that one out there.” Joel pointed outside toward Renee's Escalade and said, “Look, there she is now.”
When Mrs. Rhodes looked out the window she saw Renee crying and fussing at Cheryl. She tried to downplay the situation by saying, “I know Renee's a handful, but she still loves you. God loves you too, but I'm sure He doesn't approve of what you're doing with those two young ladies. And I'm using the term
very loosely. I can't believe you're sleeping with the two of them at the same time.”
Joel cleared his throat and said, “I never said all that, but it's true.”
Mrs. Rhodes looked up toward heaven and asked, “What's this world coming to?” She looked Joel directly in his eyes and leaned in toward him as if she had something important to ask. “Would you consider getting back with Renee?”
Joel raised an eyebrow and then asked, “For what? We were an awful mismatch. I'm into something new and exciting called happiness. Your daughter was never satisfied, and she's into too much unnecessary drama, chaos and confusion for me to deal with. She came to my apartment and lied to me. She told me that you died from a brain aneurysm.”
Mrs. Rhodes frowned, then she lightened her tone and said, “I don't believe you. Did she really do that?”
“Did she really just have a nervous breakdown in front of all these people?”
She pressed her pouty lips together and said, “She's been through a lot. Renee and Robert broke up, and she's a little traumatized from going through two recent breakups. . . that's all. Renee is very resilient. She'll bounce right back in no time.”
Joel said, “Maybe she'll bounce back after an extended stay in a psych unit at Sheppard Pratt.” Mrs. Rhodes had no response. Joel's empty stomach growled as he continued, “Look, I'm not trying to be an insensitive jerk or anything, but I need to get back to my table and place my order. I'm starving.”
Mrs. Rhodes's head began to ache. She closed her eyes and put her hands up to her face. “Is that it? I mean, you and my daughter lived together for a couple of years and that's all you have to say? You're starving.”
“What else do you want me to say?” He paused for a second. “Okay, it hurts me to see Renee in the condition she's in, but that's the bed she made. I'm done catering to her needs. I've moved on and now her problems are spilling over into my new relationship.”
Mrs. Rhodes mumbled, “You call that a relationship?” She paused and repositioned herself in her seat. “Tell me one thing.”
“Are you still in love with my daughter?”
Within a split second Joel said, “No.” Something jump started his heart. “But I'll always love her and the few good memories we shared.” He stood up and said, “Good-bye, Mrs. Rhodes. I wish you all the best and wish Renee a speedy recovery.”
Joel rejoined the girls at their table.
A few minutes later Mrs. Rhodes purposely walked past their table and said, “I just have one thing to say, and then I'm out of here.” She sighed heavily. “From me to you, from the bottom of my heart ... the three of you are freaks and I mean that in every sense of the word.”
This was a defining moment, because Erin looked at Mrs. Rhodes and said, “I've gotta be real with you. Earlier this morning that may have hurt my feelings.” She looked at Joel and Kenya and smiled. “Hearing something like that come out of your mouth means absolutely nothing. We all know that you want your daughter to be with Joel more than anything, but let me tell you that's never gonna happen. He's ours now.”
Kenya laughed and said, “Sorry, Miss Lady.”
Mrs. Rhodes appeared to boil over with anger. She looked at Kenya and said, “Fuck you.” And then she addressed them as a group. “Fuck all three of you.”
With laughter in her voice Kenya said, “Not even in your wildest dreams.”
Mrs. Rhodes forgot that she was talking to three so-called freaks. Her ignorant comments had no effect on them. She huffed and puffed as she walked away.
oel could feel the underlying beat of a negative force that was determined to disrupt his rhythm. It began to play like that annoying music in movies when something bad was about to happen. He refused to acknowledge or give in to any negativity, because he was too focused on the positive. Renee and her family members were the negative force he didn't want to acknowledge. In her delusional state, Renee was determined to get back with Joel. She felt that they were destined to be together. Joel saw things a whole lot differently. He began to understand the law of attraction. He had rid himself of the notion that opposites attract, and was fully convinced that like attract like. Erin and Kenya were his destiny.
Joel, Erin and Kenya were on their way to Joel's favorite night spot, an upscale nightclub in downtown Baltimore called Club One. They were without a doubt dressed to impress. Joel had his swagger back and the girls looked sexy and sophisticatedâtogether the three were blazing hot. Erin and Kenya added new dimensions to Joel's world, and he did the same for them. They were cut from the same cloth and were bound by a common thread. The three were at their best when they were together. When combined they completed each other and formed an exquisite life-sized tapestry.
As soon as they arrived at Club One they noticed that the bouncers were rejecting brothas at the door for violating the dress code. Why did grown-ass men want to show up at a club like this wearing athletic gear? They needed to grow up and stop shopping at sporting good stores for clothes. Even the NBA had a dress code. Club One was a place intended for a mature crowd to mix and mingle and have a straight-up good time. It wasn't a shabby pick-up or hangout spot for lowlifes to get drunk and cause trouble. Although the club had been around for years, some Baltimoreans still weren't used to having a club that rivaled the high-profile clubs of New York, L.A. and Miami.
Joel, Erin and Kenya wouldn't have any problems getting into the club. From outside they could hear and feel the bumping sounds of an original B-more club mix. The bouncers knew Joel and were glad to see him. They called him by name and gave him handshakes and one-armed half-hugs.
The exterior of the club was eggshell-white and pretty unimpressive, but the interior was all that and then some. It was like stepping into a futuristic world of hip-hop and house music. The club had four levels and each level had its own theme, based on the elements. The first level was earth, and of course its color was brown. There was a huge crowd standing around a custom-designed bar talking, drinking and laughing.
Joel wanted to show the girls around the entire club first so they could take in all of its energy at once. He felt good because everywhere he looked there was somebody coming up to greet him. Erin and Kenya were impressedâthey had no idea he was so popular. He seemed to command more attention than anybody else, but remained cool and didn't let it go to his head. Erin and Kenya were thrilled to be in Joel's company.
The water level had cool blue and white tiled walls with portholes positioned throughout the entire level. Inside the portholes were images of women swimming. This level had the most laid-back social atmosphere of all. People sat on leather sofas, just relaxing and sipping their drinks. The three enjoyed a short stay on the water level and then made their way up a transparent staircase to the red-hot fire level. This is where the jam-packed dance floor was located, along with another custom-designed bar.
The three went to the bar and ordered wine for Erin, an apple martini for Kenya and rum and Coke for Joel. This was the level where he met Renee, and after their breakup where he had seen haunting images of her. The images were all gone now. Joel looked across the room at the catwalk, at the DJ, and then up a little to his right at the air level, also known as the VIP section. He couldn't believe his eyes. His buddies Dave and Greg had reserved a sofa for themselves. They were up there perpetrating real hard for two young girls with average-lookin' faces and big badonkadonk booties. Dave and Greg never cared too much about pretty faces or brains. Their one-track minds were constantly focused on thick sexy bodies. On the other hand, Joel liked women who offered the complete packageâbeauty, brains and body.
Joel laughed to himself because he knew that Dave and Greg had kicked out some major cash to be in the VIP section. To top things off, they had a bottle of champagne chilling at each end of their sofa. Whack-ass playas like them made Joel hate the playas and the game.
Dave saw Joel across the room and signaled for him to join them on the air level. He was excited to see Joel, mainly because he needed cash. It was still early and Dave and Greg had already spent a ton of money. They needed Joel's cash to help keep the night going strong.
Greg looked to his left and noticed Dave signaling for Joel. Greg had a glass of champagne in his hand and when he saw Joel looking at him he lifted his glass and nodded his head.
Greg stood up, walked over to Dave and spoke directly into his ear above the music level, “You signaling that nigga over here, you better make sure he's got some money to contribute toward this sofa and this expensive-ass champagne. He's been missing in action and probably forgot how we roll.”
Dave said, “Don't worry, I got you. You know damn well Joel's stingy-ass keeps money in his pocket.”
Greg noticed Erin and Kenya trailing right behind Joel. He said, “Oh shit. Are those two fine-ass honeys with him?”
The three maneuvered carefully through the crowd. As soon as there was enough space, Joel took Erin and Kenya under his wings.
Dave's eyes widened. “Damn sure looks like they're with him. I ain't never seen their fine asses in here before.”
“Me either. Check them out. They're all up on him. If the three of them plan on sitting up here I know he's gonna have to come out his pockets for real.”
As soon as Joel got close enough, Dave let Joel know that they had a code-one in progress. This meant that Dave and Greg were frontin' as doctors from Johns Hopkins Hospital. Everybody exchanged greetings and quickly introduced themselves. The guys excused themselves for some male bonding while Erin and Kenya sat on the sofa next to the two young girls, Meisha and Jazmeka.
Joel asked, “What y'all doing with those Similac babies?”
Dave said excitedly, “Oh, we got them ... got 'em good. They're going home with us tonight.”
Greg laughed and gave Dave a high-five. “No doubt, son. We're about to tear shit up as soon as we leave here. We just wanna get them a little bit more sauced up ... let their minds marinate. You know what I mean?”
Joel shook his head and said, “Yeah, I know exactly what you mean.”
Dave asked Joel, “Which one of those is yours?”
Joel caught himself downplaying the situation. “Neither one is mine. We're just real good friends.”
Greg said, “Bullshit. Looks like y'all got that mÃ©nage Ã trois kinda thing going on.”
Joel smiled. “We do, and I'm loving life. Love ... love ... loving it.”
Greg said, “Ah man, I knew it. Goddamn pretty boys always getting the hookup. Maybe I need to start working out and I get me two babes like that.”
Dave said, “They're fine as shit. Are they sisters?”
“No. Just friends.”
Greg looked back at the girls and then asked, “Can I borrow one of them or what?”
Joel quickly said, “Hell fucking no. It ain't like that. We're not open to other people. This isn't a one night kinda thing or a fling. We're in a committed relationship ... meaning the three of us only.”
Dave and Greg cracked up laughing.
Greg was kind of toasted and asked, “So, what, do they be fucking each other too?”
Joel looked serious and said, “Now you're getting too personal.”
Dave laughed and said, “That sounds like a yes to me. You're the man, Joel.”
Greg was envious. “Trust me when I say this. What y'all have won't last. You're living a fantasy. You're crazy if you think something like that is gonna last. I ain't never heard of black people doing nothing like that.”
Dave said, “Man, black people have threesomes all the time, but trying to turn it into a real relationship is insane. Jealousy is gonna eat y'all alive. Man, I thought you had better sense than that.” He turned toward Greg and said, “We gave him too much credit.”
Greg said, “You ain't lying.”
Joel sipped his rum and Coke, zoned out for a few seconds and then looked out over a sea of smiling faces. He noticed Renee's little drug dealing cousin Spanky and his boys in the crowd. He barely recognized Spanky without his fitted Atlanta Braves baseball cap. Joel thought,
How the hell did they get in here?
Joel refocused his thoughts and said, “Well, so far things have been real good for me and the girls.”
Greg said, “Yeah, that's nice to hear. We forgot to mention that we're gonna need one-fifty from you for your girls sitting their fine asses on our sofa.”
“One-fifty?” Joel unintentionally sounded just like Gary Coleman when he asked, “What you talkin' 'bout?”
“Dollars. A hundred and fifty dollars. This is the VIP section. I know you like being up here with all the ballers and looking down on all these regular niggas.”
“Shit, you must be crazy. I don't even think like that. We're outta here.”
Dave grabbed Joel by the arm and said, “Seriously, Joel. For one-fifty y'all can share the sofa and finish off one of our bottles of champagne. How's that sound?”
“Sounds like some bull to me. We're not staying here much longer.” Joel reconsidered when he saw that the girls did look like they we're enjoying themselves. “All right. I'll give y'all fifty.”
Greg said, “C'mon. Look how sexy your girls look all up in the VIP.”
“They can look even sexier in the backseat of my Cherokee, for free.” Joel reached in his pocket and pulled out three twenty dollar bills for Greg. “Here you go, Doctor Scott. That's for you and Doctor Johnson.”
Greg looked down at the money and said, “All right, that'll work. But only two of y'all can sit on the sofa at a time, and that's good for another hour and a half. That breaks down to twenty dollars every thirty minutes.”
Joel shook his head and laughed. “Your math is on point, but you sound dumb as shit. How the hell do those girls believe y'all are doctors?”
Dave said, “It's not like they asked to see our medical degrees. All they care about is being seen sitting up in the VIP section.”
Greg added, “And they wanna see us keep pulling out cash for drinks.”
Erin and Kenya stood up, walked over to Joel, and asked him to join them on the dance floor. They were too beautiful to be denied.
Joel turned toward Dave and Greg. “Keep our spots warm. We'll be right back.”
Greg and Dave watched as the three made their way to the dance floor. They looked at Erin and Kenya, then behind them at the two gold-diggers on the rented VIP sofa. There was no comparison because they knew that Joel's cheap ass was enjoying all of that pleasure for free.
Greg saw how happy Joel looked on the dance floor, sandwiched between Erin and Kenya. He said, “That's one lucky son-of-a-bitch.”
Dave stood there dreaming of being in Joel's position. His eyes looked dreamy when he said, “Tell me about it. I'm gonna have it like that one day.”
Greg looked back at Meisha and Jazmeka and said, “I'm trying to have it like that tonight. Let me go over here and holla at these girls real quick.”
Meanwhile, Joel was having the time of his life with Erin and Kenya on the dance floor. They were all over each other, dirty dancing to their own passionate vibe. Joel got caught up in the heat of the moment and kissed Erin. Then he just had to kiss Kenya because he couldn't kiss one without kissing the other. All eyes were on themâlooking at them mostly with awe and admiration, but then there were the envious and condemning stares. The three danced so long and so hard that they began to sweat.
After being on the dance floor for almost an hour they headed back up to the air level. Meisha and Jazmeka weren't anywhere in sight. Greg was knocked out on the sofa and Dave was sitting next to him drinking straight from their last champagne bottle, looking like he had just lost his best friend.
Joel asked, “What's up, Dave? Where are the girls?”
He frowned and pointed at Greg. “This dumb ass right here ran them off.”
Joel laughed and asked, “How?”
“He asked if they'd be willing to have a threesome with him tonight ... they got offended and rolled the fuck out.”
Erin and Kenya overheard what Dave said and they almost fell out laughing.
Joel laughed too, and said, “That's terrible. I'm not gonna use my last half hour on the sofa. Go 'head and keep that last twenty dollars.”