The king stood in the dance floor, but he didn’t dance. Six foot two, lean cacao on royal stilts, he could not have been insecurely approached in a tight up skirt.  Simone offered up her natural beauty as an offering in the middle of a raucous, reggae floor. The king coolly accepted.  He gently pulled her arm into his and they walked out from a crowded dance floor into a spacious, November night.  The East African king, with nilotic features and locs-down-to-there had a quiet, regal disposition that hovered over her.  They exchanged numbers in the darkness;  in the mass of hurriedly parked cars; in the series of interlocking white puffs of cool air that left their mouths as they spoke.

“Where are you from?” Simone questioned.

 “Tobago,” he said.

Simone quickly commented on the rareness of meeting someone from Tobago. “Birthday?” she quickly blurted out trying to sum him up through bits of information. “August 27,” he quickly replied.  

“Hmmm, one day after,”‘ she noted inwardly hoping that astrology proved to be wrong in determining character. 

“So Tobago to DC ?”she musically questioned.

“A scholarship, I’m studying engineering at Morgan State,”  he spoke back in his low, guttural accent.

“Nice,” she replied.

The dying bass in the background had totally dropped away.  The night was done. The two locked eyes in a brief moment of silence, and laughed lightly in the awkwardness.

“I guess this is good night,” she said.

“Yea, I guess it is,” he issued back in a deep Tobagonian accent she had never heard before.   His voice was so unusual.

They parted ways, he with his group of friends sitting in the adjacent vehicle, and she alone to her car which was right across the way.  In the slow creep from a crowded parking lot, she found herself looking in the mirror, checking out the remnants of make-up that had been decimated after a two and a half hour stint of dancing and walking through a crowded night club.  She found herself wondering if he would actually call or if kings made calls or if it was ok for a-groupie-wanna-be-queen to call first.  She couldn’t decide so she just decided to focus on the impression he had made: his regal nature, his dark skin, his toothy white smile peaking behind ancient features. He was a gift from the ancestors, standing in the midst of a contemporary, common Wednesday night college reggae crowd, eluding honor between the smell of trapped smoke, and spilled alcohol on an aging club carpet.  Everything was a mess, but for him.  Simone smiled and thought he just might be the one conveniently forgetting her tumultuous on-and-off-again relationship with the other Trini in her life. 

*an excerpt from my new short story, “The Beautiful Mess”

Copyright © 2012 Nichelle Calhoun


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