A/N: Yet another trip down memory lane. This story was originally written thirty years ago as a birthday gift for my best friend, back when we were in high school. Curious, I asked her if she still had the story and she said yes. Part of me wants to read it when I go home for the summer and part of me doesn’t. She told me that she learned a lot about certain aspects of a certain lifestyle after reading the story, and I wasn’t entirely sure if that was a good thing or a bad thing. I guess it was good because she still has the story, written in longhand in both ink and lead.
Of course, being grown as hell now, the story won’t be the same. It will have similar plot beats, but the essence will be different because I’ve lived a lot in three decades and understand life better than I did as a child and my preferences have changed.
I. Drankin' Patnaz
That bitch at work tried it with her again today and it took everything in Shantreyl’s soul not to punch the woman. She had squeezed her fists so tight, her nails left pink half-moons in her palms. After an intensely stressful week, her Friday ended with a sudden meeting between her, the principal and the bottle-blonde bitch-ass assistant principal. Apparently, a student claimed to have heard Shantreyl say the word “fuck” earlier in the day and immediately reported it.
It was a fucking lie. Shantreyl recalled her day, and she’d spent most of it grading chemistry labs and physics tests. She hadn’t interacted with any of her colleagues, and her teaching schedule was fairly light on Fridays. And she kept her door closed whenever she was grading, so whoever the snotty little brat was that lied on her was a fucking fibber. She tried explaining this in the meeting, but the bottle-blonde bitch kept cutting her off and stressing appropriate protocols for teachers. Shantreyl could tell by the look in the bottle-blonde bitch’s eyes that it didn’t matter what she said. So she looked at Dr. Bowlen, the principal, and said, “I did not do what I am accused of doing. I spent most of my day in a closed classroom, grading papers. I don’t know what she is talking about, but I haven’t spoken to anyone today, much less used profanity.”
Dr. Bowlen nodded, but didn’t reply and the bottle-blonde bitch continued to talk. Shantreyl got quiet and merely waited for her to stop talking. When she did, Shantreyl glared at her and asked if that was all. Upon hearing that it was, she got up and walked out of the principal’s office without speaking.
Shantreyl sat in the school traffic, gripping the steering wheel with both hands. Her eyes were filled with tears of rage she wouldn’t let fall. She’d been teaching at Heather Hills Academy for four years and it wasn’t until this school year that she’d landed in the crosshairs of the bottle-blonde bitch. Why, she had no real idea.
Well, that part wasn’t exactly true. The bottle-blonde bitch was new to Heather Hills and her arrival immediately pissed off a third of the faculty. Shantreyl was the only black teacher at the school and one of the more highly qualified instructors with a specialist’s degree and fifteen years’ experience. The bottle-blonde bitch instantly took a dislike to her. When Shantreyl mentioned this to Jaya, her best friend, Jaya said, “She probably thinks you want her job. You’re certainly qualified enough to have it if you were of that mindset.”
“I don’t want to be an administrator,” Shantreyl replied. “I don’t even have leadership certification.”
“Doesn’t matter to women like that,” Jaya responded. “They’re going to think whatever they want to think. You watch yourself, all right? Don’t trust that chick.”
Shantreyl took her best friend’s advice and did everything she could to stay away from the bottle-blonde bitch, but the bitch seemed to seek her out whenever possible.
Traffic began to move and Shantreyl exhaled, releasing her grip on the steering wheel. Thank God it was Friday. The school day was officially over. Unfortunately, due to traffic, it was going to take about 45 minutes to drive from the district of Paradise Park, where she worked, to the district of Siren Heights, where she lived.
That’s okay, she thought. I can deal with the traffic. Just to be out of that building and away from the bottle-blonde bitch was enough.
I need a drink. I’m not going to think about work until I show up Monday morning. I need a fucking drink.
If everything was as it should be, one would be waiting for her when she got home. She had a Friday ritual with Jaya and Jaya’s wife, Renee. They all lived in Fallon Station. Jaya taught fifth grade math and science at Bruce Lee Elementary in the Ashwood district, and Renee was a forensic sculptor and artist. Jaya was always home by 3:30 p.m. and Renee, who worked at home on Fridays, always had drinks ready for her wife and their friend.
Shantreyl pulled into her garage at 5:20 and entered her townhome. She kicked off her shoes, dropped her purse and bag on the couch and went to the bathroom. While staring at her reflection, she quickly removed the elastic and hair combs that contained her big, bountiful curls in a bun on the back of her head. Shantreyl fluffed out her hair, put on the flip-flops she kept by the door and grabbed her house keys, locking the door after leaving her house. Jaya and Renee lived three doors down and, like the true friends they were, left their door cracked open for her.
Shantreyl knocked before entering. “Hey.”
Jaya was sitting on the couch, her feet propped up on an ottoman, a glass of pale gold liquid in her hands. Renee was in the kitchen, making drinks.
“Hey you,” Jaya said, wiggling her toes. “Finally.”
“Shan!” Renee said. “Sit your ass down, girl. About time you showed up. We’ve started without you.”
“I got caught in an “emergency” meeting,” Shantreyl said, using air quotes. “The bottle-blonde bitch said a student told her that they heard me say fuck. Bad enough that I’ve had a shitty week, and for it to end on that…”
“What?” Jaya said, cocking her head to one side. “She pulled you into a meeting for that?”
“Yes. What’s more, I didn’t even say it. I spent most of my day grading in my classroom, with the door shut. I haven’t talked to anyone except the students I taught today.”
Renee came over and handed Shantreyl a gummy bear martini. She sat next to Jaya and sipped on her own concoction.
“So somebody lied on you,” Renee said, frowning.
“Somebody did. I’ll find out who soon enough. I swear, I’m so fucking sick of that bitch’s shit. If I didn’t need my job, I’d invite that hoe out to the street. I’m about ready to start looking for jobs elsewhere.”
Renee chuckled. “You won’t square up alone, sis! Jay and I will be right there with you, ready to stomp a mud hole in that bitch.”
Jaya shook her head. “You better not! Don’t you let that woman run you off! You’ve been there longer than she has and you haven’t had any problems until she showed up. Don’t you let her steal your job from you!”
Renee rolled her eyes. “I said it before and I’ll say it again. Either she’s scared you’re gonna come for her job or she’s got the hots for you.” She took a drink.
“Renee, she’s married.”
“And? That don’t mean shit.”
“You right,” Shantreyl said. “I’m just tired of her bullshit. I know one day, I’m going to go all the way off on her ass and I better have a plan B ready when that happens.” She knocked back her martini and waved the glass at Renee. Renee got up and went to the kitchen to get a pitcher. She came back and filled Shantreyl’s glass.
“Oh, you made a whole pitcher full.”
“When you didn’t walk in the door at 4:15, I knew you were going to need more than one martini.” Renee sat back down and gently pulled Jaya onto her lap.
Shantreyl took another sip. “How are you, Jaya? Work treating you well?”
“Honey, all is good in Grade 5 at Lee Elementary. I just wish you could say the same. You’ve got that look; like your face has been scrunched up for the past hour.”
Shantreyl took another drink. “I’m so stressed. I need to relax.” Then she looked at Jaya’s glass. “What are you sipping on? That doesn’t look like sangria to me.” Sangria was Jaya’s Friday beverage of choice.
“Sparkling grape juice.”
“You’re not drinking?” This was a first.
Jaya’s expression was even. “I’m not drinking.”
Shantreyl looked confused. “Girl, why?”
Both Jaya and Renee smiled. Shantreyl made a face. “What is going on? Why aren’t you…?”
Then it hit her. “You’re pregnant?”
“OMIGAHHHWD! YOU’RE PREGNANT???”
“I am. Officially as of this morning.”
“Oh my goodness, I’m so happy for you guys! You’re finally pregnant!”
Renee kissed Jaya’s lips. “My baby is having my baby.”
Shantreyl clapped happily, got up and went to embrace her friends. “About time!! We should celebrate! We must celebrate!” Jaya and Renee had been trying to have a child for the past three years.
“We are,” Jaya said, raising her glass. She tapped her wineglass against Renee’s.
Shantreyl sat back down. “How far along are you? Did you go to the doctor?”
“I went this morning and I’m about five weeks.”
“This is so awesome. Do you care what you have?”
Renee shook her head and Jaya said, “No. We just want a healthy baby.”
“Finally! I’m going to be an auntie! Seriously, let’s celebrate. Let’s do something! Are you up to it, Jay?”
“I’m good,” Jaya said. “Renee’s made me keep my feet up since I got home and been feeding me snacks. I could do with a little more substance, especially since she can’t cook.”
“I’ve got an idea,” Renee said. “Since you want to celebrate and we want you to forget about your shitty week at work, why don’t we go out?”
Shantreyl finished her second martini. “Go out where?”
Renee rubbed Jaya’s thigh. “To the club.”
Jaya chuckled. “When was the last time we went to the club, Renee?”
Shantreyl shook her head. “I haven’t been up in the club since I was in my late twenties. Renee, what are you talking about?”
“Just what I said. We should go to the Zodiac Club. It’s Throwback Night. Cici and Tash told me about it and they love it. You can dress up in clothes from your favorite decade and the DJ plays all the hits. I’ve been wanting to check it out for a while now.”
Jaya caressed Renee’s face. “This is the first I’ve heard of it. Baby, why didn’t you tell me you wanted to go?”
“Well, I’ve been extremely busy with work and so have you. I finally finished the sculpture of that missing woman this morning. I’ve been working on that for weeks. Tonight’s my first night free in a long time. And Shan’s going through it at work, so why not go and blow off some steam?”
Shantreyl thought about it. She hadn’t gone to the club in at least ten years, but suddenly thought it would be fun. It would definitely take her mind off work.
“And who knows?” Jaya said, giving Shantreyl a sly grin. “Maybe you’ll get lucky and meet a guy you can have a one-night stand with.”
Renee chuckled and Shantreyl rolled her eyes. “Girl, please.”
“Just sex, sis. Not a relationship. Sex. You’re telling me you aren’t hard up for some D? What’s it been? Eight months?”
Shantreyl sighed. “Nine. And yeah, I could use a little D in my life. But not so much that I’ll bring a total stranger to my home.”
“Then go to his,” Jaya said. “Go, have sex with him, and leave.”
“That’s reckless as hell, Jay,” Shantreyl said. “And Renee, you’re nodding like it’s a good idea.”
“’Cause it is. You can afford to be a little reckless, Shan. You’ve earned it. Just make sure you’ve got condoms and you can carry my .38 with you if it makes you feel better. But I agree with my wife. You seriously need to get laid. A good O will relieve a lot of your tension.”
“Renee, you know I don’t like guns. If I didn’t love dick so much, I swear to God I’d switch teams. And they say sexuality is a choice.”
“Not everyone can play for the winning team,” Jaya said. “We’re just looking out for you. Find a nice hot man, take his picture, write down his name, take a picture of his car and send it all to us. Call us en route; let us know the final destination. Renee, give her one of your switchblades. You’re not afraid to stab someone, are you?”
Shantreyl smiled. Her friends meant well. “No. Not if I need to.”
“Then it’s settled,” Renee said. “So we’ll go out, go dancing, have a few drinks and maybe some handsome stud will catch your eye. Dance with him, turn him on, and follow him home. Fuck the shit out of him and wear his ass out. Then leave. Call us the moment you walk out of his house.“
“Renee, you’re a mess.”
Jaya replied, “But she’s right, Shan. Let’s do it. If you get lucky, you get lucky. If you don’t, you don’t. Just to cover all the bases, you should go in your car and we’ll meet you there.”
Renee said, “We need to get there around eight thirty. Cici sad that after 9:30, that line gets insane. Are we dressing up for Throwback Night? I’ve still got my Cross Colours and Doc Martens in a trunk somewhere. I can do the 1990s for sure.”
Shantreyl shook her head. “If I’m going to go with a one-night stand in mind, I need to look like I’m on the prowl. I’m going to wear one of my catsuits. Haven’t worn them in at least four years. Hope I can still fit my big ass in one. Are you going to dress up, Jay?”
Jaya stroked Renee’s ear. “I’m going to wear my hot pink and white mid-80s Adidas suit with a white Kangol and my pink and white Adidas shelltops. I found the suit at Junkman’s a couple of years back and had to buy it.”
Renee frowned. “Did you think you would ever be able to wear it?”
Jaya shrugged. “We sometimes do spirit week at work. But I haven’t worn it yet.”
Renee said, “So, we’re agreed. We’re going to the Zodiac to have some fun, so fun will be had, right?”
“Right,” Shantreyl said.
Jaya finished her grape juice. “Absolutely.”
Shantreyl grinned. “Well, let me go get ready. I’m in serious need of a bath. We’re going in separate cars, right?”
Jaya said, “Yes, because some man is going to see your fine behind and want it, and we want him to want it, and we need to make sure you can get home in case things go right. Or wrong.”
“What if he’s a psycho?”
“Don’t be a negative Nancy,” Renee said. “Let’s be positive about this thing. If he demonstrates any psycho tendencies, then you run. If he starts talking crazy, run. Listen to your instincts. Or if you change your mind, no harm done.”
“You’re such an optimist,” Shantreyl said.
“True,” Renee said. “But I’m also a realist. Hold on a moment; I’m going to run and get Mary Jane for you.” She got up and ran upstairs.
“Who is Mary Jane?”
Jaya said, “One of her switchblades. She’s got at least five. You know Renee and her clandestine love of violence. I’ve got to make sure she doesn’t pass that on to our child.”
“I heard that,” Renee said, coming back down the stairs. She walked over to Shantreyl and opened her hand, revealing a pearl-handled switchblade. “This is Mary Jane.” Renee pushed the button and a shiny eight-inch blade popped out, sharper than sharp. “Guaranteed to slit a muffucka open from throat to testicle.”
Jaya smiled while rolling her eyes. Renee grew up in Stardale. “My wife is so hood.”
Renee retracted the blade and handed Shantreyl the knife. “Put her in your purse. If he starts to trip or lay hands on you when you didn’t ask him to, slice his ass and bounce.”
Shantreyl wrapped her hand around the pearl handle. “Are you sure about this, Renee?”
“I’m sure. Jay’s sure. You’ll have some protection if you need it, but I’m optimistic and I don’t think you will. He’s going to be a nice guy.”
“Absolutely,” Jaya said, taking her feet off the ottoman. “Whoever he is, he’s going be hot and a good dude. The stars are aligned in your favor, Shan.”
Shantreyl nodded, unable to believe she was agreeing to this. “Okay. I’ll guess I’ll see you guys in line then.”
* * *
By the time Shantreyl made it to the Zodiac Club, Jaya and Renee were already in line, in what looked to be the 10th spot. The club opened at 9:00 and Renee wanted to make sure they got a table.
“It’s warm tonight,” Jaya said, fanning herself with her Kangol. “I may be having second thoughts rocking this outfit.”
“I hope my hair doesn’t frizz up,” Shantreyl said. Her hair was in a perfect curly Afro, the way she preferred to wear it. “How long have you been here?”
Renee replied, “We just got here about five minutes ago. Let’s see what you’re wearing. Spin around,” she said, examining Shantreyl’s outfit. “Oh, I love that choker. And that catsuit! Tight in all the right places! Are you wearing a bra?”
“Nope. I am wearing petals though. To keep these wayward nipples at bay.” Shantreyl was blessed—or cursed—with large nipples.
“Take ‘em off,” Renee said. “Put them babies on display. Guaranteed you’ll find a wayward dick in under ten minutes.”
“Agree,” Jaya said, still fanning herself. “You look fantastic, though. All that booty you got…someone is going to want to buy you a drink or something.”
Shantreyl dug in her purse, came up with a hand towel and wiped the back of her neck. “I hope we’re not out here for much longer. It’s hot as hell. I don’t want my makeup to run.”
Renee looked at her phone. “Ten minutes. They always open up on time. I want us to get a table. We will have to do rotations to keep it, though.”
“That’s fine,” Shantreyl said. “I’m sporting a pair of stilettos; something I’ve not worn in a long time, so I will be sitting regularly.”
“As long as you get up and dance at some point. That’s one of the reasons why we’re here.” Renee ran her hand over Jaya’s lower back. “But I don’t want my baby standing up all night, making life difficult for our baby.”
“Oh trust,” Jaya said. “I’m going to sit for a while at first. My feet are already tired.”
“You don’t feel ill, do you?”
“No. Just hungry. I’m ordering a plate of wings and fries as soon as possible. And a milkshake. Do they have milkshakes in there?”
Shantreyl nodded her head. “A milkshake sounds great right about now.”
Renee said, “Tash and Cici said that the club has a full menu and the food is amazing. One of the reasons why the Zodiac is so popular. It’s got a big dance floor and the hottest DJ in the city. Word on the street is that it has other things too, but I don’t know what they are.”
Just then, the line started to move. Shantreyl put her towel away. “Thank God. It’s probably going to be dull as dishwater for an hour or so, but I don’t care as long as we get a table.”
Their wish was granted shortly thereafter. Renee got them a table near the back, off to the side. They sat down.
“It’s big in here,” Shantreyl said. “A lot bigger than I thought.”
“And in a couple of hours, it’s going to be packed. Do you want to set a time frame?” Renee asked. “How long do you want to stay if you don’t get picked up?”
Jaya answered. “No more than three hours, babe. For me, that is.”
“I’m with you,” Shantreyl said. “Let’s go ahead and order up some wings and drinks, and wait for the club to start filling up. When they play one of my songs, I’ll hit the floor. Everything we wanna do, let’s do it in three hours or less.”
“Fine with me,” Renee said, signaling for a server. “What are we drinking?”