When I told Janay I wanted to try something different, I was thinking nerd-ish, maybe religious. Hell, I’d even go with corporate; there were plenty of fine-looking brothers working well-salaried office jobs.
Anything was better than the fake-ass wannabe rapper, not a cent to his name, grills on his teeth cost more than his rent, more Jordan’s in his closet that dollar bills in his wallet, burnt lips from all the cigars he smokes, lying-ass, cheating-ass, baby mama drama having-ass scumbag I was used to with JT.
But never in my wildest dreams did I imagine she’d take me to a New Year’s Eve, Farmers Only dot com, cowboy hoedown. It’s criminal to have this much denim in one room, unless it’s being burned. The sea of leather boots scuffing the floor makes it hotter than a black church on Christmas, and the height of their heels make my wedges look like pre-school training wheels for sluts.
I feel out of place, and extremely overdressed. My off-the-shoulder minidress barely covers the butterfly tattoo on the back of my upper thigh, and it’s no secret that the dress isn’t the only little black thing in the room—all blue, green, and steel grey eyes on me.
“What the hell is this?” I whisper out the side of my mouth to Janay as a cowboy in a fringe vest brushes by, says in a husky voice with beer-soaked breath, “Ma’dam.”
“Something different.” Janay winks at me. I hate her.
“Just because they’re a different color doesn’t mean they’re not still dicks.” I look over my shoulder and lock eyes with another leaning up against the wall by the door we’d just entered. Had he always been standing there? He spits into a can by his feet, sucks on his teeth, though it looks like he’s sneering at me, his bushy eyebrows furrowed. I bet his is the black pickup parked right outside the door, with the Confederate flag displayed on the front bumper.
I have to remind Janay how many we’ve seen flying over the two-lane highway on our drive out here to Middle of Nowhere, USA. Half-shaved dying pine trees on every side of us. There’s not another building for at least five miles back the way we came. If anything happened to us—I eye the holster on his hip, too small for a gun, but make not a pocket knife—who would come looking?
“You said it yourself. You’re sick of the candy-coated misery.”
Ok, so I break out sometimes when I eat chocolate, but do lactose-intolerant people give up ice cream just because it makes them a little gassy? Hell no! And I’m not that stupid either.
“Howdy, ladies.” For all the stomping of the dancers to the banjo and harmonica bluegrass music played onstage, I don’t hear him approach from behind. Not doorman; he’s disappeared. Maybe he’s had enough of the party already. I sure have.
This one tilts his hat to us. His long nose, dips over his thin lips, curled in a smile, barely visible through the five-o’clock shadow of a beard slowly growing in that covers the entire bottom half of his face. He opens his palm to the ceiling. “Care to dance?”
Why? So he can slide his hand down my back, cop a feel to see if our butts really are bigger? So he can get a taste of forbidden fruit, come back to the lodge and tell the boys about his wild night of jungle fever? So he can confirm just how animalistic we are in bed?
“No thanks,” I say, but Janay pushes me so hard I nearly knock myself out on the zippers stretching down the shoulder of his jacket.
“Don’t be so pretentious. It’s New Year’s! Have fun!”
The spurs on his boots spin as he kicks up his feet, marches me down to the front of the stage. The crowd parts for us like the Red Sea. My skin burns under their stares, but he doesn’t seem to mind. Thumbs hooked behind his belt buckle, feet squared, knees raised to elbows in an awkward sideways lunge shuffle. He doesn’t even notice that I’m not dancing with him, and just as quietly as he snuck up on me, I slip between the bodies clad in hip-hugging jeans and bolt for the door.
It’s just my luck that Mr. Confederate is resting his elbows on the hood of his truck when I come crashing into him. He catches me in his arms, holds me firmly against his hip. “Where you going, little lady?” he says, and swiftly pulls me up for a ride.
His muffler is too loud for anyone to hear my screams, so I don’t bother. I wonder, has Janay noticed yet that I’m missing, or has she found herself a cowboy to dance with too? I tug on the seat belt and click it across my lap, fixate on the toothpick in his ear as he backs out of the dirt driveway and pulls out onto the road, hitting every bump on the highway as we cruise deeper into the country.