King County, Georgia
January 19, 1985
Michonne huffed in disgust. Damn Abraham!
The van pulled up to a stop alongside the small restaurant, and Sasha glanced hesitantly over at Michonne, correctly picking up on how angry the other woman was.
"It's not that bad," Sasha ventured. Silence greeted her statement. Michonne was staring ahead, arms crossed, sunglasses shielding her eyes.
"Come on, Chonne. He's trying."
"No." The steel in her voice warned Sasha from voicing anymore support for Abe. "Trying is getting a gig opening for the Commodores; trying is going on Johnny Carson; trying is writing music so we can record demos to send to radio stations. This?" She gestured distastefully at the scene before them. "This is not trying. We're in Hicksville, for God's sake!"
"Look, it's just that Abe owes this guy a favour and wanted to pay him off, that's all." Abe was nowhere around to defend himself, Michonne thought cattily, opting to rent a van to move their equipment, and leave Sasha to handle her wrath.
"I'll pay him off, all right," Michonne muttered under her breath. She sighed, eventually deigning to get out of the van. Cold puffs of wintery wind escaped her as she exhaled, shaking her head in disgust at the situation. How did she always manage to get roped into these things...She should be home with André instead!
She shivered again as another brisk breeze blew by. What was up with this place? It was like they were in the Appalachian mountains or something.
"Come on," she nodded reluctantly at Sasha. "Let's get in, do our thing, then get the hell out of here."
"Hey man, thanks again. I really got to get that radiator fixed," Glenn slapped Rick on his back. "Sure I can't offer you a little something for gas?"
"Come on, Glenn, I'm not gonna take your money." Rick leaned back in the truck's seat, squinting against the lights of an oncoming car.
"Well, a drink then." Rick wanted to get back home, but one look at Glenn's hopeful face, he found that he couldn't say no.
"Just the one," he agreed reluctantly.
Truth be told, he didn't have anything urgently to do at home. Carl and Judith were with Lori for the week, and he'd be going home to a boring, empty space to stare pitifully at late night TV. This drink was probably the most adult interaction he'd had in a couple of months, and more than likely that would be between him and the bartender. He nodded his head in appreciation to the bartender, enjoying the kick of the neat G & T. He'd only keep in to one drink tonight though; as a cop, he'd seen all the craziness of drunk driving.
There were no vacant tables available, while the crowd at the bar was pretty thick, listening to the band play some song he didn't know. Not that he was into modern music, anyway. Drove Carl crazy listening to his old bluegrass tunes. He swung around, looking at the young people on the small dancefloor. They'd had to clear way even more tables than usual since more people were dancing in here than he'd ever seen before. Glenn had done wonders with the place since he took over. As a young man born to Korean immigrants who'd moved to Atlanta, he'd happened across the sale of Old Man Jones' bar. While a few of the residents didn't like his changes (more than likely, they just didn't like that someone of Korean descent had done it), it was popular with the young people who had decided to stay in King County, instead of moving to Atlanta. Glenn had revolutionised the night life just by adding on another room, bringing in a few gaming machines and having a live band ever so often. Carl was often begging Rick to go and play a few games and Rick found he didn't have the heart to say no, not after what the boy had been through in recent times. Since his opening six months ago, the night life downtown had boomed, drawing out all singles, couples, families...
How Lori was spending her Saturday night and with whom she was spending it briefly flitted through his thoughts, before he mentally shook it off. Not tonight, not here when he was out of the house for the first time in forever. He'd had enough bitter feelings about his ex-wife and her new lifestyle to go down in the hall of fame of pathetic, lonely sons of bitches. Tonight would be for him to enjoy a drink, be in a different environment, maybe talk to other adults who weren't his neighbours or the Greenes.
The singer finished off her song with a flourish, while introducing another singer and the new song to be performed. The crowd enthusiastically cheered, clearly knowing what it was, while he - frankly uninterested in music he didn't know, and feeling a little bored - glanced down at his watch. Only twenty minutes he'd been here. Damn, this was going to be a long night. He nursed the drink again, enjoying the burn in his throat,
contemplating walking around the bar when the next minute literally changed his life forever.
She wasn't like any woman he'd ever seen before. His eyes slowly ran along captured her, from the short afro hairstyle to the shiny blue tights and high heels. She was the most stunning woman he'd ever seen in the flesh with a gorgeous smile that was both stunning and sexy. She clearly enjoyed the song she was performing:
Here I am
This loves for you
Hey baby, sweet as honeydew
Close my eyes
Oh, what fantasy
And you're right here with me
He couldn't name the song or type of music to save his life, but it was as if everything in him was finetuned to her voice. He had the strangest sensation of wanting to get up from the barstool, walk straight up to her and say "I'm here. What do you need?" He was on edge, tense, and so focused he was barely breathing. She was calling him...he could literally hear the need in her voice. He felt he could see directly into her soul - she needed a protector, a lover...
Cherry blossom kiss
What you're givin'
Makes my body rock
Keeps me sizzlin'
Do what you want
I don't care
I'll be your lollipop
You can lick me anywhere
Rick's eyebrows hit his forehead at the suggestive nature of the lines, and yet shock was the last thing he was feeling. He eyed her up and down again. He could gladly visualise everything and more that he wanted to do to her. When the song's last notes faded away, he shook his head to get rid of the lingering sensual haze of her voice, wondering what in the hell had just happened to him.
Despite Michonne's reservations, it turned out to be a good set. The crowd, surprisingly for backwater county, was responsive to the latest R&B hits. She and Sasha switched up lead vocals and were able to complete their allotted six songs, though the crowd called them back for an encore. She felt the usual glow of satisfaction when everything went well, though she was still slightly annoyed with Abraham for springing this on her at the last minute and in such an out of the way place too.
Out of her peripheral vision, she noticed a man watching her as she approached the bar. The groan escaped her throat before she could stop it. It was always that one guy, she thought tiredly, always one out of the many enamoured by her voice who would be lingering to talk to her after a gig. Over the years singing in different bars and clubs, there would usually be an overeager admirer hanging around to give her compliments on her singing and proposition her. The perverts that wouldn't take no for answer, that wanted to pay her money to "sing for them" in private. Geez, they weren't even original. Then there were the ones who wanted to see what black women "tasted" like. For the last year, she'd gotten adept at chasing them away on her own - a hard glare and no-nonsense scowl would often send them running, tails between their legs. Abraham chased the really persistent ones (Mike's old job, she thought with a pained pang), but Abraham was nowhere around now, was he? Claimed to have gone to spoken to Glenn, but she knew better, she scoffed. Did he and Sasha really think they were being discreet?
Mike Anthony. She sighed once again, thinking of the bittersweet memories. Mike was supposed to be the Captain to her Tenille; the Ashford to her Simpson; the Herb to her Peaches. And for a while, musically at least, they were in perfect synchronization - blended harmonies, love of the same musical genuises and a passionate belief in civil rights. It was as if he had stepped off the cover of Jet and Ebony and swept her off her feet. Then came everything else.
She gracefully slid onto the bar stool, feeling the relief of getting off the heels. "Can I get a bottled water?" She hoped they had bottled water; she was in no mood to be offered tap.
"Excuse me, can I buy you a drink?"
"No." She didn't even bother to look around. Jesus, they never allowed her to get a damn sip of water before pouncing.
"I know it's a little creepy, but you don't even have to talk to me. Just wanted to say you have a great voice, that's all." The slightly apologetic tone peaked her curiosity more than anything. Normally the creeps would either continue with the compliments or curse her out when she didn't budge. His voice though was unusuallly sincere and direct. Even soothing. Not at all like the ones she'd met before. She turned to inspect the intruder.
Hmmph. Beard the size of a mountain jack, nice coat, startling blue eyes that were saying a hell of a lot more than 'you have a lovely voice'. If she was honest with herself, she felt a pull from this man, a nameless sensation that threatened to send butterflies darting around in her stomach.
What the hell was that? She didn't know and she had no intentions of finding out, she just wanted to get out of Dodge. "No," she repeated firmly.
He nodded a little, looking off into the distance. "Sorry to have bothered you, ma'am. Have a nice evening." And walked away without another word or look.
Stupid, he berated himself. For some reason he'd thought they could have a drink, maybe a conversation. Clearly she wasn't interested and didn't want to be disturbed and he hadn't picked up on it. His instincts for these situations were poor all those years before Lori and now they were completely shit. He felt disappointed too. He better leave before he put his foot into his mouth again. If this was an indication of how awkward he was going to be back in the dating world, he foresaw himself being lonely for a long, long time.