Bookends Fiction: Passion Jones

A (Revealing) Night On The Town - 2005

By Sharon Leach

Saturday, March 11, 2017

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One of the beauties of having a belated birthday celebration is always the penance your friends pay, by way of makeup gifts, which is pretty much like what makeup sex is to a relationship. It’s hot and steamy compensation for a gaffe and you’re guaranteed to not get it again until there is some other hideous f--k-up.

Meanwhile, you make out like a bandit. That Saturday night, Passion’s friends took her for a night out on the town since they’d forgotten her actual birthday. And just like actual makeup sex, this makeup celebration had the potential to be off the chain. It was decided that everybody would meet at Boom Shot, the newest nightclub in Kingston.

It was so ritzy and exclusive that the line to get in actually curved for a block outside. Passion had never been there before so Gail decided to indulge her by feting her there with a few (50 or so) of her friends. That night, a convoy consisting of Bimmers, Mercedeses, F-150s, and diverse sports utility vehicles made its way to Boom Shot, a new club.

There were good vibes a-plenty, air kisses and more alreadyintoxicated people than you could shake a stick at. Passion arrived early, looking ravishing in tight white Moschino jeans and a glittery Donna Karan blouse with an open back.

The blouse was short and stopped just above her navel, showing off the portion of her flat stomach peeking over the waistband of her jeans to advantage. She wore the new high-heeled slides that were her gift from her sister, Eden, and which made her seem more statuesque than ever. She kept pushing back her bronze braids so they would fall down her back in silky fine ropes and allow the diamond earrings, a gift from her father, to glint in her ears. Her face was made up to fashion magazine-type perfection.

She was looking like a million dollars, and she knew it. Since Gail was nowhere in sight, she did the only thing she could do: she entered the club by herself, laughed with and received her guests warmly, playing the role of the consummate hostess as she was born to do.

It soon became evident to those looking on, who didn’t know her, why she was such a popular girl. She was gracious in her acceptance of gift after beautifully wrapped gift and murmurs of apology about the unintentional gaffe and smiled beatifically, insisting that they not beat themselves up on a silly little mistake. Soon, even people not a part of the celebration had been drawn towards her, wishing her felicitations and being invited to join the party. But deep inside, beneath the surface, Passion was miserable.

Her date with Rocky the night before still weighed heavily on her mind. It had quickly degenerated into an embarrassing debacle, leading her to believe now, even more than ever, that a long-term relationship was not in the cards for her. Rocky, to begin with, had been late. Passion absolutely hated men who turned up late. She hated women who were late, too, for that matter. But at least she wasn’t trying to sleep with them.

Not that there was anything wrong with that, if that was what you were into. But tardiness was something she hated in people; being late meant you didn’t regard someone’s time. So Rocky being late sent the clear message that he didn’t respect her enough to not keep her waiting. Especially in a parking lot in the middle of Cross Roads, an area she was unused to being in the first place. When he’d rolled up she’d recognised his big sh-t-eating grin before really taking in the piece of junk the car was. She couldn’t bring herself to return the grin.

She glared at his pile of scrap metal. God, the car was falling apart. There was practically none of the original colour left on it. Thank God, nobody she knew was here. Rocky slammed out of the car and raced to her door. "I’m soooo sorry I’m late, but traffic was murder."

He poked his head in her window and kissed her lightly on her cheek. He was wearing a close-fitting black tee shirt, highlighting his bulging muscles in his arms. He smelt of cologne and mouthwash. She liked men who were concerned with personal hygiene.

Passion felt herself weakening. She pretended to still be annoyed, however. The truth is, she wanted to peel him like a banana right there on the warm concrete. "I was just about to leave," she said, tossing back her braids over a shoulder and yanking her purse from off the passenger seat.

Rocky opened her door for her. "I’ll make it up to you," he promised, chastened. Passion smiled in spite of herself. She gave him her hand. "Nice ride," he said admiringly, staring at her car’s finish. Passion froze. She’d been planning on putting the car up for sale, as she considered it too lowly a car for her.

The only reason she’d bought it a year ago was that it was what she could have afforded to pay cash for as expanding the bookstore had tied her hands financially. She stared at him. "This old piece of junk?" Passion regretted it as soon as the words were out her mouth. They both involuntarily looked at Rocky’s battered car, its engine still ticking in the space beside the Rav4.

An uncomfortable silence settled over them as they stood pretending that they weren’t drowning in awkwardness. The night had grown thick and heavy with the sounds of Cross Road traffic swirling around them. "Well, let’s get going." Rocky had apparently been saving his money for the restaurant he was supposed to be taking her to afterwards. She’d paid for the tickets, and so she’d expected him to get the snacks.

She hadn’t eaten since lunchtime and she was starving. But when intermission rolled around, he made no attempt to buy them snacks, using the time ostensibly to ‘get to know her better’. What he’d in fact been doing was flirting with her, laying down his mack, shamelessly marketing himself. If not him, though, then who? she supposed. She’d told him that dinner was unnecessary. But he’d been hell-bent on impressing her by name-dropping a fancy restaurant she wasn’t even in the mood to go to when the movie was finished.

He hadn’t even had the presence of mind to make a reservation. Honestly, she liked cinema food — a hot dog and some Raisinets would have been fine with her; one heavy meal a day was all she usually allowed herself. She didn’t need to be impressed by someone who clearly was not in a position to do so. She thought of marching down to the concession stand. Thought very hard about it.

Then she felt conflicted about offering to buy snacks for them. Was he one of those guys whose macho pride would be wounded if she took up the tab? He’d put up a mild protest when she’d offered to pay for the tickets. Then again, what if that had been an act? What if he was one of those guys who felt encouraged by the sight of a woman spending her money?

What if he made it a habit? She was not about to become some meal ticket for some callow boy no matter how fine his body was. She didn’t believe in breaking a man badly; as bad as things were, she wasn’t so hard up for male companionship. So she’d sat through the rest of the movie, gritting her teeth and praying that the rumbling in her stomach was not discernible and that she wouldn’t pass out before she’d found some food.

Then Rocky had actually had the gall to make a move on her there in the darkened theatre. A moan had escaped her, and, encouraged, Rocky had eased up her dress. There in her seat, with no thought about who was noticing, Passion had eventually submitted to wave after wave of spasms, bitng her lips to avoid calling out. At least the scene on the screen had been dark, so the theatre had been dark. After, Passion had been annoyed with herself.

She felt like such a hypocrite. She had sworn that she would take things slowly. She felt betrayed by her body once again. Once again, she’d entered into a situation for the wrong reasons. She knew that Rocky wasn’t marriage material. He was a young guy interested in screwing a pretty woman with money. Period.

After the movie, she’d fled muttering something about a headache, but not before she had seen the look of disappointment in his eyes. ~ Boom Shot was tastefully decorated club to resemble a club she’d visited in Europe — Italy, she believed — with multiple dance floors and bars, a private lounge and ornate black-on-chrome fixtures all over.

There was an abundance too, of mirrors, which she loved. Everywhere: glass. The ceiling. The walls. There was floor-toceiling glass everywhere you turned. Which was excellent. She loved to watch herself dance. Passion looked around, loving the opulence, and made a mental note to find out who owned the joint.

There were girls in fishnet stockings waltzing about with drinks on trays and taking orders. One approached with a glass and shouted that she’d been instructed to give her the drink. Passion smiled and looked around to see who had sent it over.

She saw a paunchy, bald-headed man, who seemed remotely familiar to her, seated at one of the bars across the room, raising his glass in salute and smiling at her. She hurriedly turned away.

Then the old school jams started. As the sounds of Motown filled the room, Passion floated onto the crowded dance floor with her glass of Moet in one hand, her pledge about liquor by now long forgotten. She beckoned to Gail, who had just entered the club with a bored-looking Roan in tow.

Gail was gorgeous in bad-girl leather from head to toe. Passion smiled at the thought of how much her once-conservative friend had changed. She knew that Roan had had a hand in the transformation; he’d always made it clear that he liked wild women like Passion.

Suddenly, from all corners of the smoke-filled room, her closest girlfriends began to materialise. They had all been friends since high school with whom she’d reconnected after returning from college abroad. There was Nikki, looking demure in a sheer, short white slip-dress and Miriam, in a teeny leather skirt that emphasised her nascent pregnancy that only she seemed in denial about. Only Delia was missing from the group.

They all converged on the dance floor, screaming and hugging and smacking air kisses. "Hey, where’s Delia?" asked Miriam loudly, above the music, as she gulped her wine. Passion bent to rub her belly and withdrew her hand before Miriam swatted it away.

"Madam will be late… as usual!" shouted Gail, who was peering through the crowd, following Roan, who’d gone to the bar, with her eyes. "So, how’s the birthday girl?" Nikki spoke up. She was a flight attendant with Air Jamaica and the baby of the bunch. "Yeah Passion. We’re so sorry we forgot.

Happy birthday, girl!" Passion gave them each loving smiles, "That’s cool. I’m not mad with you! Long as there are some big-ass presents in there," she said lightly, pointing to the cordoned-off lounge area in back reserved for their private party. "So…" Miriam had a mischievous twinkle in her eye. "Where the hot guy?" Passion gawked. "Jesus, Gail! Do you keep any of my secrets any at all?" "Relax, Pash," said Miriam, looking around for a guy named Daniel whom she’d recently begun to stalk, who was dancing with his girlfriend. "You know we’d hear about it sooner or later."

Passion’s mouth fell open. "You told … everybody?" she sputtered. "Oh, hush up and tell us about it." Gail laughed. "You didn’t call me back last night so I rang you. Why youn’t answer, girl? Were you giving it up?" "God, Gail!" Passion drained her glass and beckoned to a waiter. "OK, OK," interrupted Miriam impatiently.

"Let’s cut the chitchat. Passion, you got a piece last night or what? Please! Talk before my water breaks." All heads swivelled to look at her. "Are you admitting you’re pregnant, hon?" Gail said in mock horror.

Everybody burst out laughing. "If Passion spills the beans I’ll tell you who my babydaddy is. I’ll tell you heifers everything you’ve been dying to know," Miriam said, laughing. "No, I didn’t sleep with him," Passion offered.

"Damn, girl, you must be losing your touch." Passion turned and looked severely at Miriam. "What are you implying, Miriam?" she said frostily. "Nothing! "It’s just that this Rocky guy sounds so cute. And dangerous.

We’re jeal—" "Wait a minute," said Passion, flipping back her braids and peering quizzically at her friend. "Wait one damn minute. I never told anybody his name."





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