One of the firefighters tells Mike that the gas water heater next door had been purposely rigged to blow up. He and Sarena both have near panic attacks when they realize they could have been killed. Amazingly, it’s Ma who stays calm. Their neighbors come over to Jesse’s to check on them.
“You didn’t see anyone, did you? Someone sneaking around?” I asked.
“No. I was gonna grill tonight, but it got too cold, so we fixed steaks inside. But that other place the gas shouldn’t even of been on. I mean, it’s been empty for months.” Jaqwan told him.
“It had been rented,” I said. “They were supposed to move in soon. The power, gas, everything, got turned on a couple days ago.”
“Da-yam,” Jaqwan said softly. “They gonna be pissed.”
I was glad I’d picked up renter’s insurance, but I wasn’t sure how much of my possessions would be covered. I had nothing but a few clothes and my shaving kit. I started to laugh. I couldn’t help it. It meant nothing, the fact the new tenants couldn’t move in as planned. They’d get their money back, find a new place.
“Dammit,” I fussed. “I just bought an entire new box of condoms and left ’em in the dresser drawer.”
Everyone looked at me like I was crazy. Everything I owned was gone and I was moaning about a box of condoms? It finally struck them that I was making a joke. It took a moment, but soon they were all laughing with me. The guys thumped me on the back or chucked me on the shoulders.
“I’s gonna say, man. I’ll front you a couple,” Jaqwan said with a smirk. “Fine lady like this by your side. . . . Mm mm mm. . . .” He introduced himself to Sarena. “So, this what you substituted for that teacher?”
“What are you talking about?”
“That girl, at your party. She’s that teacher, isn’t she? The pretty, quiet one. Used to room with Cynthia’s sister. . . .”
He paused as all eyes in the room turned to him in confusion. I think my mouth dropped open, but I can’t be sure. None of us knew what to say.
“Y’all’re all lookin’ at me like I’m flat crazy.”
“What teacher, Jaqwan?”
“That one that’s always pulling you in on field trips, specially requesting you an shit. You didn’t know that was her? You blind?”
“I guess? Drunk off my ass. She was here? At my party?”
“Yeah, she come with Cynthia’s sister.”
“Which is Cynthia’s sister?”
“The six foot blonde babe that was kissing all over you until Miss Thang drug you of to fu. . . . Umm. . . for an assignation,” he said after a quick look at my mother.
“Was she the roommate? Your sister’s roommate?” I asked Cynthia.
“Yeah. Madelyn got pissed she did that and threw her out on her ass the next day. Maddie’s had the hots for you for months, but you wouldn’t give her a second glance.”
“Shit!” I sat heavily on the arm of Sarena’s chair. “God, it all makes sense now! She told me at the hospital she’d lost her apartment.”
That took a long explanation. By the time I was done, the firefighter was talking on his radio to the police dispatcher to send over a squad car.
“Do you have any pictures of this woman?” he asked.
“Molly’s camera!” I ran next door. The camera was on the coffee table. I took it back to the cop and started flipping through the pictures.
I passed the one with the women kissing me, hoping for a better shot. I found it a few frames later. After cutting the cake, each of the women fed me a piece of cake. Anisette Parker was standing next to me in a very abbreviated dress and I was licking icing off her fingers. She was smiling directly at the camera. I hardly recognized her as the mousey teacher who always wore modest long skirts and high collars. The dress was a micro-mini, black tube that fit like a second skin. Her breasts were round and firm, nearly out the top of the dress. Her long legs were shapely, curvaceous in the high heeled black strapless shoes. I could feel my body reacting to her like it had that night.
“I’m an idiot,” I said. “I never even recognized her.”
“I wouldn’t have either,” Jaqwan said. “Except Madelyn was furious with her and started yelling about it after the party broke up. She was packing the bitch’s stuff while you got your freak on.”
I reddened, turning away from my mother and Sarena. I was mortified, humiliated. I couldn’t believe I was so blind drunk that I didn’t recognize her. But all the other times I’d ever seen her, she was in those funny dresses with her hair all slicked back.
© Dellani Oakes 2014