Then & Now by Cortney Joseph

Summer 1994.

Stepping out of my limo, I removed my shades and took in my surroundings. Breathing in the air, smiling as older folks passed by and waving to those I grew up around.

“Oh my God…” I turned my head, licking my lips as a group of women began to scream, running towards me. Usually, I’d jump back in my limo to avoid the crowding of fans, but I can’t leave the hometown fans hanging. And, of course, being recognized is great sometimes. Coming from being a small town, country boy to being an international superstar…. this is the shit I live for. “Jamel Hawkins! Oh my God, I love you so much!!”

And more ‘I love you’ sentiments followed. “Aww, I love you too, Ladies. Thank you so much for your support.”

I signed autographs, took pictures for those who happened to have their disposable cameras on hand and announced that I had to be on my way. “Do you really have to go Jamel?”

“Unfortunately I do, Love. Y’all know how Mama Hawkins is. She find out that I’m here and I don’t go see her, won’t be no more Jamel Hawkins.”

One girl gasped. “Then get your skinny ass on! We need you on stage!” I laughed, hugging them all once more before parting ways.

Walking down my street, heading to my childhood home, I heard a little snickering. “Well, well, if it isn’t Mr. Local Celebrity.”

I stopped in my tracks, looking at the first girl I’d ever fallen in deep like with. “Tisha. Good to see you. And that’s Mr. World Wide Celebrity to you.”

She chuckled lightly, smiling as her girls nudged and egged her on. Within a matter of seconds, she was standing in front of me, running her hands down my chest. “You’ve certainly grown up to be a very handsome man.”

“Thank you, and you’re still beautiful. It’s been a few years now since we’ve last seen one another.”

“Yeah, we were teens. And I remember that you had this really adorable crush on me.”

I shrugged, smiling. “That was the thing in the 80s, I guess. The tall and lanky geek, in love with the pretty cheerleader. I used to ask you out a lot. And you always shut me down.”

Tisha cleared her throat, stepping a little too close for my personal comfort. No, not because I believe that I can’t be touched, but because of the history between us.

See, Tisha was one of those girls that got a thrill out of making others feel bad about themselves in high school. That included me. I was the geek, the nerd with the thick ass coke bottle frames and grandpa sweaters with high-waters. And I had this real bad habit of going after girls out of my league. Each and every one of them, including Tisha, shot me down like a dog being put out of it’s misery. “You’ve definitely made a good come up over the years.” She looked past me briefly. “Is that your limo?”

“Sure is.”

“Maybe I could get a little ride around before you leave town. I’ve always wanted that experience.”

I chuckled, clearing my throat. “Oh, you want a ride in the limo? And probably on me too?”

“Most definitely. I’ve always had a little thing for you, on the low.”

“Oh, on the low?”

She nodded, flipping her hair over her shoulder. “That’s funny. ‘Cause I remember that back in the day, you dissed my ass the hardest.”

“Jamel, don’t dwell on the past. This is now, so what’s up?”

“What’s up is that you’re still a gold digging, opportunistic hoe.” Tisha’s jaw dropped and her girls gasped. “See, back in high school, I used to go out of my way to get with you. Carrying your books, escorting you to class. Shit, I even fought a couple of the jocks that caught your attention after they disrespected you. I used to politely ask you on little dates, here and there, but because I didn’t look good next to you, you used to say ‘no Jamel’, ‘no way’. Then when you were looking for a sap to take your virginity, so that you could later be prepared for… who was it? Dante? Yeah, I was willing to be that sap and although I had experience, you said I couldn’t do shit for you.”

“Again, that was then. This is now.”

“And now, I’m telling you what you told me, every day for four years. No Tisha. No Way. No How. Not Today.”

“Seriously? How could you turn ME down?” She motioned up and down her body.

I just chuckled. Why it’s a thing for these girls to think that as celebrities, all of us accept any and everything into our beds, I’ll never know. Me, personally, I don’t do the one nighters. And though I’m not in a relationship, I’m definitely looking for a woman with substance. If I’m gonna let you in my world, you definitely can’t come in just because I’m paid now.

“If I recall correctly, Tisha, you weren’t down for me when I was broke. Don’t try to fuck with me now that I’m paid and livin’ the life you sucked and fucked for but still don’t have.” I turned to her girls, all school mates of mine. “Nice seeing y’all again.”

And I went on my way, rushing towards my mother’s door so that I could see her beautiful face and have a good old heart to heart, like we did when I was a teen.

Published by mypenwritesnice

Creative Soul. Artist. Perfectionist. Virgo.

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