Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Journey-WIP By River Jordan

Strong winds picked up bits of trash and swept them past me and on into the night.  Distracted by my blaring ipod, I had gotten on the wrong bus.  Now I was stuck here at the bus station in downtown Houston.  The hustle and bustle of the busy terminal insured that people would not be curious about me.  It was about five o’clock.  I had nowhere to go and no money to spare.  I called my sister Minnie and told her what had happened.

“You dork” she said.

“I know, I know”

“What are you going to do?”

“I’ll just find someplace nearby to stay.”

“Will you be okay little sister?”

"Yeah, don’t worry."

I hung up thinking that I should have told her that I would be staying on the street somewhere.  Maybe I could find an all night diner. 

As the sun started to set I knew that I only had about an hour to find a shelter before full dark. 
I started walking west on Fannin.  Before long I was turning into a residential subdivision.  I wanted to be safely ensconced in a hidey hole before long.  I only carried my backpack with what few belongings I had.  Turning onto a street lined with houses, I noted that there were no people outside their homes.  They were all settling in for the evening, one man walked his dog down the other side of the street in the opposite direction as I was going.  He passed a home that looked empty, there were no lights or cars in the driveway.  I looked around to see if there were any signs warning of dogs, but there were none.  Trees and bushes lined the privacy fence, and before long I found an especially dense part of bushes behind a tree and tucked myself in.  Even though it was nighttime I could still see what I was doing.  There was no grass under the bush so I pulled out my windbreaker from my backpack and set it aside, then used the backpack as a pillow.  I put my ipod in my left ear and covered myself with the windbreaker.  I set my watch alarm to go off at 6am when it would still be dark since the bus would leave at 8:15.

Slowly the lights in the neighborhood went out one by one.  The house whose yard I was in was still dark but I could hear some noises inside.  I prayed that God would watch over me while I slept and even though I was out in the open in a strange city in a strange neighborhood, I fell asleep.

Sometime later I woke up to rustling grass.  Someone or some animal was walking around stealthily near me.  After a few nervous moments, the noises disappeared.  I waited a few more minutes but the silence was absolute. 

After that I decided to turn off my ipod and soon fell asleep again.  My watch alarm woke me up and I hurriedly made my way out of there. 

When I got to the bus station, I went straight to the restroom to wash up and brush my teeth.  Looking at myself in the mirror I was glad that I didn't pass anyone getting to the bus station.  Bed head and sleep wrinkles all along the left side of my face.  I bent over to splash water in my face and noticed an insect bite below my ear.  I looked closely in the mirror but disregarded them as maybe ant bites since they were not that far apart. 

Breathing a sigh of relief that I was back on the road at last to Killeen, Texas, I promptly fell asleep. 

I called Minnie as soon as I stepped into the lobby at the tiny Killeen bus station.  We hugged each other warmly and I followed her to her car.

"You look awfully pale, Lisa"

"Yeah, I didn't sleep well last night."

"That must be it."  She didn't say anything else about the way I looked for the rest of the trip home.  We spoke excitedly about my rooming with my oldest nephew Junior.  When we got to her house all four of my nephews ran out to hug and welcome me home.

"Titi Lisa, you're staying in my room with me!" exclaimed Junior.

After leaving the employment office the next morning, I called the two measly contacts that had provided me with. 

By the end of my first interview, I had a job!  Joe Ramirez, owner of Fajita Joes hired me on the spot.  I would be responsible for selling fajita tacos and other snacks at two local night clubs, Cody's and City Streets.

Minnie wasn't that happy I'd be working in a night club but at least it was separate from the bar!

I planned on taking classes at Central Texas College during the day so it was a perfect job for me.

That evening I dressed in my "uniform" of jeans, boots and neon pink Fajita Joe t shirt.

I let my hair hang loose for tonight and it covered my shoulders.  My tshirt was a little small but since I'd be behind the food bar, I wasn't worried.  My black ropers lifted my petite 5 foot 2 to 5 foot 4 so I was happy.

I stuck a barrette into my back pocket just in case Joe said I needed one.

It was so exciting to be working in a nightclub.  I wasn't as busy as I'd thought I would be, but it was just fun to be looking at all the people dancing and having a good time. 

After work when I was finished cleaning up I grabbed my purse to leave.  I thought I heard a noise behind the bar,but no one was there. 

Even though I was very excited about my first night at work, after my shower I fell right to sleep.

My routine for the next two months never changed.  Sleep until eleven,  make lunch for my nephews and then we'd all go to the park or fishing at Lake Bellton.  Everyday at 5pm I'd go to my aerobics class.  Afterwards I'd shower and change into my uniform and head out to the club. 

This particular day was different in that the club was still locked when I got there at 6:30.  Barry always had the club open at that time with country music playing.   He favored Randy Travis.  I looked around to see if maybe he was just parked out back but the back lot was empty.  

I was sitting on the hood of my car when the police cruiser pulled up a half hour later it's light strobing brightly since dusk was setting in. 

I smiled nervously at the police officer and introduced myself.

"Hi, I'm Lisa, I work here."  Pointing at my Fajita Joe t-shirt.

"Hello, how long have you been waiting here?"  No sense of humor.

"About a half hour, usually the club is open by now.  Barry is always here when I get here.  Is everything okay officer?" 

"How long have you worked for Barry?"  Could he be any more granite?

"I actually don't work for Barry, I work for Joe selling fajita tacos to the patrons.  Why?  What happened?"

"Joe?  Oh, Joe Ramirez.  How long have you worked for him?"

"Well, about five weeks."  I glanced at his name tag.  T Dannon, I wonder what the T stood for?  Terrible? 

"I'm sorry ma'am, I'm afraid you're going to have to go home.  The club will not be opening tonight.  If you'll give me your name and number someone will be calling you.  In the meantime, just go home and wait to hear from someone in your employers office to call you."

"Can't you tell me what's going on?"  But he wouldn't budge.

"I'm sorry, someone will be contacting you soon.  Here's my card if you need anything."  I took his card and wondered if he'd heard me when I'd asked for more info.  I looked down at the card.  Theodore, his name was Theodore.
Before I finished reading his card, he was pulling away from the parking lot with his strobe lights off. 

I could only get in my car and worry all the way home.  I had my friend Ray's phone number at home.  He worked as a bartender Sundays.  Maybe he could tell me what was going on.

"You're home early."  Minnie said with raised eyebrows.  She tilted her head slightly as if she questioned why.

"Yeah, no one was there.  Then this cop pulled up and told me to go home to wait to hear from someone from Fajito Joes to call me."

"What do you think happened?"

"I don't know he wouldn't say.  But I'm going to call Ray.  You know, that guy that we met at the Piggly Wiggly.  He works on Sundays as a bartender."

"Oh, I hope everythings okay.  Do you think that you still have a job?"

"I don't know.  I hope I do."

I went to my room and pulled my address book out from under my pillow where I had left it earlier. 

His phone rang ten times before I hung up.  No answering maching.  I knew he had one.  When he told me to call him anytime, he'd said he had voicemail.

Hmmm.  Maybe he's on the phone and doesn't want to pick up?  Maybe.  I'd call him later.

It rained all day the next day and I still hadn't heard from anyone about going to work.  After aerobics I dressed in my uniform and drove over to Codys. 

Empty parking lot.  Empty back lot.  I turned into the gas station across the street to make a u-turn and got down to buy a Diet Coke.  I was walking out when someone called my name from off to the left.  

"Hey, Lisa,"  the man was tall, well everyone is taller than me, but he was at least six feet tall.  He had dark hair that was cut short.  But the short haircut could not hide the fact that had his hair been longer it would have lovely curls in it.  He smiled and it was breathtaking. 

"Hi" I hope he didn't notice my voice was breathy.  I looked down and smiled.  Unfortunately that brought my gaze down to places I didn't want to go.  I felt myself blushing and turned to look out the front of the store to keep him from seeing my blush.  He laughed quietly and I knew that he knew my shame.

I took a deep breath and turned back to him.

"Do I know you?"  I asked a little too harshly because I was embarassed.  

"Well, we met at Codys, remember, I'm Frank."  I think I would have remembered this guy he was gorgeous.  But I would have met lots and lots of people there because they were always at full capacity.


"Well, it was about a month ago.  I just got back to town last week."  

I still couldn't remember him but my mama taught me to always be polite.  So, I had to try.

"Oh, how was your trip?  Did you get to see the sights?"

"It was fine.  I'd love to tell you all about it.  Hey, would you like to have dinner with me?  Tonight?"

Even though I really wanted to say yes.  Handsome as he was, I didn't want to appear too eager.  I smiled, "I'm sorry, I have plans this evening.  Maybe some other time."  I was turning away not wanting to welcome a second invitation when he touched my elbow.  I looked down and then up to his face as he escorted me out the door.

"Would you give me your phone number if I asked nicely?"  He smiled down at me and I had to stop breathing for a second.  His hand was warm on my arm and I found myself smiling up at him.  

I looked into his eyes as if I would be able to see what he was thinking.  They were the color of milk chocolate.  Hey, I like chocolate. 

"Umm, okay."  He pulled out his cell phone and waited with his hand still on my arm.  Thumb wreaking havoc with my thought processes.  He put the number into his cell phone while I took a step away from him.  

"Well, bye!"  I waved,turned away and walked quickly over to my car.  As I unlocked my car I looked over to him and saw the oddest expression on his face.  It was almost sad and definitely far away.  He noticed me looking at him and smiled and winked.

"I'll call you later."  He walked back into the store while I tried to catch my breath

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