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Cynique

The Only One Chapter 21

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The Only One

Chapter 21

Determined not to give a lot of weight to Troy Briggs’ mention of the White Sox, Carole Everly had, nevertheless, turned to the channel where their Saturday afternoon contest was being televised. She wasn’t going to sit in front of the screen and watch, but would check the score from time to time while she went about her weekly chores, which included doing her laundry and tidying up her apartment. What did she have to lose? Only her sanity.

Troy Briggs, as usual had left her hanging, never approaching her again at the company meeting yesterday, only offering a quick salute from across the crowded room as things were breaking up and there was a mob scene as everyone was hurrying to beat the traffic. Glad she hadn’t driven, she was left to scurry along with Carmen Hernandez, her friend and co-worker with whom she was riding.

Yet, like the fool she just could not stop being, here she was, grasping at straws, wondering if the end of the Sox game would be the beginning of something else. Whatever Troy’s strategy was, it was working…

When a third out in the 9th inning racked up a victory for the home team, Carole tried not to get her hopes up. 15 minutes later busily engaged in folding her freshly-dried clothes, she took her time answering, when her phone went off, assuming it would be Wanda calling for an update.

“So what’s on the menu?” a voice greeted, and Carole couldn’t believe her ears.

“How – did you get this number?” was all she managed to say.

“I have ways,” Troy Briggs answered. “A man has to know how to be - resourceful.”

“Don’t we all,” she remarked.

“Right. And if anybody ever called for a person to be resourceful, - it’s you, Carole Everly.”

“You’re not exactly a piece of cake, yourself, Troy Briggs,” she retaliated.

He chuckled. “Yes, I am. If you invite me over tonight, - you can have a bite of me.”

“Oh really? And what are you snacking on nowadays? Lost your taste for - white meat?”

“Why is it that we always have to engage in a battle of wits? Just shut up and ask me over, woman! We need to talk!”

“About what? The 3-hitter just thrown by the Sox pitcher?”

“Good game, wasn’t it? Lucky for you they won or - I wouldn’t be tryin to score a free meal with you.”

“What makes you think I want to see you?”

“Do you?”

“How do you know that - I don’t have a boyfriend!”

“Do you?”

“What if - I don’t feel like cookin a meal?”

“You don’t have to. I’ll bring a pizza. And some wine.”

“I - already have wine.”

“Good. What time should I come?

There was a pause while she gnawed on her lip, struggling with her better judgment.

“What - time do you want to come?”

“Is - 8 o’clock good?”

“I - guess.”

“See you then.”

“Don’t you - need my address?”

“No. Unless you’ve moved, I already have it.”

Not wanting to spend her Saturday night doing nothing, Wanda was hangin out with a couple of her friends from work, experiencing mixed emotions about Carole’s plans for the evening that included a house call from “Doctor” Troy Briggs who specialized in broken hearts. But, she’d just have to hope that her friend was handling the situation without getting hurt. In any case, she would be there for Carole, - to either console or congratulate her…

Seated there in the crowded softly-lit singles bar, nursing a drink, watching her 2 companions circulate, hoping to get lucky, Wanda decided to take her chances and strike up a conversation with the guy seated on the stool next to her, eyeballing her cleavage.

“If you wanna keep checkin me out, you gonna have to buy me a drink,” she flirted, deciding he looked OK. Nothing special but at least the glasses he had on weren’t nerdy, and he wasn’t overweight or missing any teeth.

“I guess I should ask you if you come here often,” he said signaling for the bartender. “I’m rusty when it comes to pick-up lines.”

She chuckled. “Don’t tell me, let me guess. You’re just coming out of a long relationship.”

“Not exactly,” he said, then told the barmaid to give Wanda another of what she was drinking.

“Tell mama all about it,” Wanda coaxed after ordering a rum and coke.

He chuckled and slowly shook his head. “Where to begin?”

“At the beginning.”

I just don’t know how to deal with you black women.”

“I’m listening.”

“Well, for example, - a few months ago, I was browsing around Best Buy, flippin through some CD albums that were on sale, and this real mellow lookin chick caught my eye, - in fact, she looked a little something like you, - except slimmer.”

“You can dispense with those details,” Wanda advised dryly.

“I don’t have a problem with thick women,” he said, casting another glance at her size 42 double-Ds.

“OK, you’re forgiven. Continue.”

“Well, I noticed she was hangin out in the jazz section, so I decided I would try and impress her. I skimmed over the notes on the back of this 'Best of Contemporary Jazz' CD right there in front of me, then eased on over to where she was, and struck up a conversation. I started repeatin what I’d just read, makin her think I knew somethin about jazz.”

Wanda cocked her head and raised a quizzical eyebrow. “Go on.”

“After that, she started expoundin on the subject, herself, and I just kept on noddin like I knew what the hell she talkin about. Then, I got her number by suggesting that we get together and check out a jazz club sometime.”

Wanda stared at him.

“I didn’t care nothin about jazz. Kanye and Jay-Z are more my speed, but I decided I would do the Wikipedia thing and bone up. I also googled some jazz musicians I’d heard of, and checked out some of their work on YouTube. After a while, I was good to go, even kinda likin what I was hearin. Meantime, I was givin myself a do-over, tryin to be a cool brother, talkin proper over the phone, complimentin my girl on her smarts and looks, not tryin to get in her pants or nothin.”

A confused look slowly spread over Wanda’s face.

“Then, after some setbacks, we finally made plans to go see this new jazz artist,” he continued. “I freed up some credit on my Visa, put my good suit in the cleaners, bought me some new glasses, had my hair trimmed and lined up the day before so I could make a good appearance and show my girl a big night out on the town, then - the broad stood me up!”

Wanda took a gulp of her drink.

“I waited outside the club for 2 hours and she was a no-show. And that was it. When I finally called and all I got was her voice mail, I was done. I kinda wanted to see this Esparanza chick, too.””

Wanda spewed out her drink. “Nigga, what is your name?” she choked.

“He frowned. “Are you OK?”

She nodded her head.

“Tyrone,” he answered, gawking at her. “But – I used my middle name with her cause I didn’t want to sound too ‘ghetto’.”

Wanda could hardly stop laughing. “Tell me something, Albert! Why didn’t you ever give Carole a good phone number?!”

His eyes bulged. “Do you know Carole Everly?”

“She’s my best friend and she confides everything to me.”

“I’ll be damned! Small world. Well, what the hell’s up with her?”

“You don’t wanna know.”

“Just curious,” he said and took a swig of his beer. “I guess I got what I deserved for tryin to be somethin I’m wasn’t, so I ain’t mad at her. And by the way, what’s your name?”

“I’m ‘Wanda’, and Carole didn’t really stand you up that night. She was involved in a car accident but couldn’t call you because the only number she had for you - was not in service.”

“Wow. Is she OK?”

“She’s fine now. She really wanted to apologize to you but, like I said. She had no number for you. It was all just one big missed connection!”

“I called from different numbers ,” he explained, “cause my buddy at work told me the worst thing a dude could do is to provide a chick with a way to keep track of him.”

Wanda grunted. “Yeah, if you a playa.”

“Whatever. I finally decided that since there were always so many obstacles to us hookin up, she just wasn’t for me, so now - I’m just back sittin on the bench, watchin the game.

Wanda scrutinized him a little closer. “What you need is a - coach.”

He gave her a slow once over. “You available for the job, Miz Wanda?”

“I might be. I like your potential.”

“I like you, too. You ain’t stuck-up.

“Plus, you got a - steady gig.”

“Been workin as a computer repairman for 5 years.”

“And you ain’t cheap.”

“Right, but this place ain’t happenin for me so I’m fixin to head out. Gonna go buy me sumpin to eat. I gotta taste for some Mexican food. Wanna come?”

Wanda considered his offer a moment, and then found herself smiling. “Can I finish my drink? I…don’t wanna waste your money .”

“Take your time. Them tacos ain’t goin nowhere.”

“By the way, what should I call you? Albert? Or Tyrone?”

“You can call me anything you want,” he grinned.

“OK, Baby,” she winked.

- to be continued, as the final chapter awaits…

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