Thursday came and went. As did weeks and months. I’d been dancing for a little over a year. I was doing well in school and my best friend kept my secret from her mom. I quit my job at the bar after Bert offered me a spot on the payroll. I wasn’t the star attraction but I had steady clientele and I got along well with everyone there. The girls I met at the bar were now my friends. We shopped together, hung out together, and made money together. We did private parties every now and then to make up for slow nights. I didn’t have a steady boyfriend, but I was on the dating scene. I’d met a few guys while at the mall and at school. No one knew what I did at night and I liked it that way. It really wasn’t their business. I leased myself a Landcruiser, but I hadn’t moved out of Toya’s house yet. Her mother, Laverne, raised an eyebrow when I came home with the SUV, but she didn’t pry. The one thing that she was concerned about was my drinking. I drank every time I danced, which was at least four nights a week. My courses were becoming more intense. I would have to take the exam for the nursing program soon, so I knew that I would have to curb it somehow. The only problem with that was the fact that I performed better with some liquor in me. I needed the sauce to keep me loose. One night on the way home I could barely see straight. I drank three bottles of Moet over the course of the night. As I drove home, I made sure to drive slow and stop at every light. The last thing I needed was a DUI. I pulled into the driveway and sat there for a moment. I gathered my thoughts and stepped out of the truck. I headed for the door, concentrating on keeping my balance. I noticed a car pull up and stop at the end of the block. I figured it was a neighbor coming home after a night on the town. I dragged my body up the stairs, pulled off my clothes and dropped onto the mattress like a dead woman. Just as I fell into a deep sleep yelling downstairs woke me up. I sat up, grabbed my robe, and as I put one foot into a slipper, Laverne burst into my room. “What’s going on here?” she yelled. “A strange man just left my door looking for a girl named Candy! Is that you?” She looked puzzled. “I’ve called the police! What are you doing, girl?” I scrambled to understand what was going on. Right then the doorbell rang and she shot out of my room as fast as she shot in. This time I followed her. I looked out of the window. I saw two gentlemen in blue uniforms with shiny badges on the front porch. She opened the door and frantically started again, “a strange man was here and…” “Excuse me ma’am, please calm down. Let us ask you some questions. Then you’ll have a chance to give us the details. We’ve checked the perimeter. There aren’t any signs of anyone outside. Could he have gotten inside by chance?”
“No, officer. Once I got the door locked I turned the alarm on, and it covers all of the windows and doors.”
“Okay, may we sit down?”
“Yes, no problem. I apologize, but I was so shaken up,” Laverne said calming down a bit.
They sat down, but I continued to stand by the window. Things were coming together in my mind and I began to realize what had just happened. “Ma’am, what is your name?” The officer asked.
“Laverne Gordon,” she replied.
“And your age?”
“Is this your home?”
“We received a call about a possible intruder, but upon our arrival there is nothing going on. Could you tell us what happened to prompt your 911 call?”
“I was asleep in my bed. I heard my door bell ring. Carmen works on the late shift, so I thought it could be her. Maybe she lost her key or something. Anyway, I came downstairs, looked out of the window, saw her truck in the driveway and immediately opened the door. Well, it wasn’t her. It was a man. So I tried to close the door as fast as I could but he stuck his foot in the door and said that he was looking for Candy. I told him no Candy lived here, and reminded him of the hour. He insisted that she did live here, and that he just saw her pull up. He was pointing at Carmen’s truck. I told him that truck belonged to my goddaughter and her name isn’t Candy. I asked him to remove his foot from my door before I call the police. He grabbed my collar and called me a lying bitch. He said he knew Candy was here because he had just followed her from The Gold Mine. He yelled something about some unfinished business and began to push his way into the house. I pressed the police button on the Brinks control pad and the alarm sounded. It startled him and he stumbled. I quickly snatched out of his grasp, closed the door, set the alarm, and called 911.”
“Ms. Gordon, what did he look like?”
“I explained that to them on the phone. He was a black man, about five eleven with a medium complexion. He had acne, but no facial hair that I noticed. He did have a hair cut like Bart Simpson.”
“That was Lionel,” I thought to myself. He was one of the lamest dudes that came to the club. He had cheddar though. I was always promising him a night of private dancing, but I never came through. I never intended on it. I just wanted that dough. He was a real good tipper. I couldn’t believe that he followed me home. He was a true psycho.
“Did you hear me? Hello…what do you know about this?”
“Who me?” I asked the policeman. He must have been addressing me while I was lost in thought.
“Yes, you. You are Carmen, right? That is your truck out there, isn’t it? The man did say that he followed you here; no matter what name he called you. He said that he knew you. What light can you shed on this?”
I sighed deeply. I didn’t know what to say. I started to lie, but I looked up and saw Toya standing at the bottom of the stairs with a you-betta-tell-the-truth-I-can’t-believe-you-put-my-mama-in-danger-I-outta-kick-yo-ass look. “I am Candy.” I heard Laverne gasp. The police officers had an I-knew-it look on their faces. “I’m an exotic dancer at the Gold Mine. He’s one of my clients. Laverne I am so sorry.” I was almost in tears.
“Sorry? That’s all you can say? You could have gotten us killed. And what are you doing working there anyway? You deceived me. What would your parents think if they knew you were taking your clothes off for a dollar and living under my roof? They would probably think that I condone this behavior or at best encourage it. I am very disappointed in you. Toya, did you know about this?” She turned toward the staircase. Toya didn’t say a word. She just nodded and dropped her head. “And you have my daughter deceiving me as well. Carmen, you have to go.” She sighed deeply.
The police officer interrupted, “Well do you know the perpetrator’s name?”
“Lionel, that’s all I know.”
“Do you know what kind of car he drives?”
“No. I’ve only seen him inside the club. I don’t know anything else about him.”
“Ms. Gordon, I think we have enough information for the night.” He turned to me. “If you can think of anything more let us know. We will be contacting you, as well,” he said to me as he handed her a business card, stood up and headed for the door. His partner looked at me and shook his head.
Once they were gone, I tried to reach Laverne again. “Please, I didn’t know he followed me. It wasn’t my fault. Please….”
She looked at me like a woman with a made up mind. “No Carmen. You lied to me, encouraged my daughter to do so and brought riff raff to our house. I am a single woman. I can’t take that risk. If you were going to do as you said and go to school that would be different, but you chose another path and I can not support that in any way.”
“But I don’t have anywhere to go. You know my parents won’t take me back.”
That fact softened her a bit. “Okay Carmen. If you quit and find a respectable day job, I will let you stay. You will have a curfew and restrictions.”
I thought about the money I had been making and I realized that I knew this day would come. I couldn’t go back to making pennies a day. “I’ll have my things out by Friday.”