Chapter One
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The Crisis Before Midlife

November 4, 2008

M

alcolm sat back, in his black desk chair with a Newport positioned between his fingers, deep in thought. Yes, he was elated that a black man was finally in a position of power that many felt was taboo.  At the same time, he knew that this brother would be one of the most—if not the most—scrutinized presidents there had ever been. He began to think about all of the brothers and sisters who gave their lives so that the black community would be able to celebrate a progressive event such as this.  He stared at his olive-colored wall, which was full of pictures of inspirational African Americans who had done a great deal for the black community. The wall, as he called it, was like a who’s who in regards to African American leaders. The wall was perfectly designed by Malcolm’s vivid imagination. As he began to exhale the thick cloud of tobacco-filled smoke from his mouth, the phone rang.

  “Are you coming out tonight? Give me a call back…One!” That was the message Chris left on Malcolm’s voice mail. Malcolm deleted the message from his phone. He tapped his pen repeatedly on his note pad and mumbled to himself, Maybe I need to shut it down for the night. I can’t think of anything else to write anyway.

  Malcolm glanced at his silver-plated watch.

  It was a little past 11:00 p.m. He turned on the shower and thought; I need to be back here by at least 1:30.

  After the shower, he stepped into his small walk-in closet to finalize his wardrobe. The mothball scent still lingered from the previous renter. Malcolm began to toggle through his perfectly arranged attire. He searched for some wrinkle free gear to expedite the process. He decided to wear some dark blue jeans, a long-sleeved polo shirt, and his camel-colored blazer. Looking over his 5’10” frame in the mirror, he thought, well, maybe tonight will turn out to be a good one after all!

THE SMALL VENUE WAS FULL of brothers and sisters overjoyed about Obama’s winning of the election. There were people wearing all types of Obama attire, including; shirts, buttons, hats, etc. The night seemed like the dawning of a new beginning—almost like the birth of a new nation. After all, this may be the hope that the city of Memphis needed to help change the mentality and negativity that drained the city at times.

  The crowd was diverse. The ladies were astonishing from head to toe. It was the same for the men too.  

  “I bet all these folk pretending to be pro-black and righteous gone go back to their everyday bullshit in the next couple days. How come every time we get a so-called victory we act like we been so close and together as a culture and community—then we get back to bringing down one another like a crab in a barrel,”BJ said.

  With a slight roll of his eyes, Chris replied, “Chill out with all that. I’m trying to have a good time.”

  With his Public Enemy t-shirt and green beret, BJ continued to look around the venue. His dark chocolate facial features resembled that of a boxer before entering the ring. His face solid—nose flared.

  Malcolm arrived at the club a little before midnight. He didn’t have to wait in line too long. Chris had already paid for Malcolm’s spot and had alerted security accordingly.

  Malcolm walked into the dimly lit venue as Snoop Dogg’s “Sensual Seduction”, had the crowd in a nice groove. He glanced to his left to see a group of young ladies looking in his direction. He smiled and gave them a nod. He ventured towards the back of the club near the bar. Finding a spot to order a drink was almost as difficult as finding a needle in a haystack.

  “Let me get a crown and coke, please,” Malcolm said to the beautiful bartender. The sister was gorgeous. She was wearing an Obama T-shirt and had it tied in a knot in the front, showcasing her gold-plated belly button ring surrounded by a rose tattoo with the thorns circling her belly button. Malcolm was definitely enjoying the view from where he stood. There was no better way to start a night for Malcolm than to be in the vicinity of a beautiful woman. The pure essences of the female anatomy made Malcolm second guess his thoughts of there not being a God in the sky.

  “It’s about time, bro.”Chris said.  He then proceeded to let the world know. “Yo—listen up. My guy Mac is in the building!” A group of on-lookers stared in their direction.

  “You must be the man around here?” a short ebony sister asked.

  With his hazel eyes and nicely trimmed Cesar haircut, Chris replied, “Indeed, I am!” Chris reached for her hand. “My name is Chris, and who might you be?”

  The woman smiled. She extended her hand as she batted her eyelashes.

  “My name is Alex.” Leaning back a little and squinting her eyes, she said, “Has anyone told you, you look like—”

  Clearing his throat and poking his chest out, Chris said, “Let me guess, a light skinned Denzel?”

  She smiled and replied, “No—I was going to say Terrance Howard before I was interrupted.”

  The bartender gave Alex her drink. She winked at Chris and said, “Nice to meet you, Terrance.”

  As she was leaving, Chris grinned and replied, “The name is Chris.”

  Malcolm sipped on his crown and coke as he looked for familiar faces in the crowd. The sound of “My President Is Black” was blasting through the speakers.

 “Is that Keisha over there?” Chris asked.

  Malcolm squinted as he replied, “It look like her, but I can’t really tell.”

  “I can tell from them curves that’s her. I bet you miss that too.” Chris said.

  Keisha and Malcolm were once what some people would call “friends with benefits.”

Malcolm patted his pants pockets in search of his cell phone. He wanted to be sure he hadn’t left it sitting in the cup holder in his Maxima as he usually did. He took another sip of his drink as he began to think about the old times he and Keisha had. His mind went back to their broke days, when the two of them had to share 2-piece meals from Jack Pertle’s at times.

  With tight eyes and a slight drawl in his tone, Chris said, “Look, Mac, if you don’t go say something to her—I will!”

  Malcolm looked at Chris and gave him the ‘what you talking about Willis’ look. “And what you gone say? You know she don’t like you, bro.” Malcolm said with a chuckle.

  Chris rolled his eyes with a smirk on his face when he replied, “Ok…believe what ya want. But enough of the chit-chatting; there’s too many other ladies in here tonight to be talking about Keisha. I’ll catch y’all a little later.”

  “You just keep your eyes open for Vanessa,” Malcolm said as Chris walked away. Malcolm leaned back on the bar and placed his empty glass on the table to his right.

   As BJ mocked Chris behind his back, BJ replied with narrow eyes, “I swear he thinks he’s just God’s gift to women.”

  “Come on BJ, you know he’s been like that for years.” Malcolm flagged for the pretty bartender to fix him another drink as he continued, “He is who he is…Can’t change it, so don’t even try.”

  “You right about that.”

  BJ took a seat. He placed his stocky legs on the bottom of the stool. “Anyway, how’s life treating you, bro? You’ve been so busy in that book I haven’t really had a chance to hear what’s been good with you.”

  Malcolm leaned a little closer. They were about two feet from the speakers, and Malcolm was having a hard time hearing what BJ had to say.

  “It is what it is. I’m surviving. I wish teachers’ pay would increase, but that’s another subject on its own.” Malcolm said.

  Still standing against the wall near the bar, Malcolm started to sway slightly from side to side.

  “BJ, watch my drink for a sec. I need to go drain the main vein.”

  As Malcolm journeyed to the restroom, he socialized with some of the familiar faces he spotted along the way. He saw Chris had worked his magic as he spotted him exchanging numbers with Alex, the young lady he met at the bar. Chris saw Malcolm as well and gave him his signature wink of the eye, meaning that he had accomplished his nightly goal.

  Malcolm checked his watch as he entered the restroom. It was 15 minutes past midnight. There were only two stalls in the small restroom. Next to Malcolm stood an elderly man collecting tips as he provided soap and paper towels for his visitors. Malcolm’s cell phone rang. He looked at the number and it immediately caused a scowl to form on his face. With piercing eyes and slightly inflamed nostrils, he let out a deep exhale. His cinnamon colored skin flared red when angered or agitated. While washing his hands, he decided to buy two loose cigarettes from the old man as he exited the restroom.

  “God bless you!” the old man said.

  Malcolm shook his head. “I wish I could say the same to you.  But I hope peace be upon you.”

  Malcolm felt a soft tap on his right shoulder as someone whispered seductively, “Hey, you.” Malcolm immediately recognized the voice and the scowl he had been wearing disappeared.

  “Long time no see. How have you been?” Malcolm said.

  “I’m good…I know you saw me earlier. Why didn’t you come to say hi?”

  “I didn’t really know if it was you or not.”

  “You knew it was me. I could tell the way Chris—‘ole dog ass—was staring.” 

  Malcolm laughed for a second and replied, “So who are you here with?”

  “It’s just me and some girlfriends. I thought getting out would do me some good.”

  Malcolm grabbed her hand and leaned a little closer, “Same here—you still looking good.”

  Keisha smiled as she replied, “Some things don’t ever change.” She continued, “You still looking good yourself.” Not being one to hold her tongue or beat around the bush, she asked, “So—who are you with these days?”

  Malcolm licked his lips, which was a habit of his, as he replied, “I’m cooling right now— and you?”

  “You can say the same for me.” While digging in her purse, she continued, “Maybe we can get together and get some lunch or something sometime?”

  Without any hesitation, Malcolm replied, “I think that can be arranged.” Malcolm took her cell phone and proceeded to enter his contact information.

  Keisha looked behind her and noticed the twins, Trina and Tina, standing with their arms folded. Keisha said, “Well, it was good seeing you again, Malcolm. Don’t be a stranger!”

  “Same to you,” he replied.

Chris was right; Malcolm would have loved to get back in the mix with Keisha. She was looking extra-enticing that night. She had on tight jeans that enhanced the size of her buttocks, and to compliment her attire, she wore some 80’s style bamboo earrings with slight extensions in her hair. She was definitely a “round the way girl.”

  After his brief conversation with Keisha, Malcolm walked back to the bar. “I see you finally made your way to Keisha,” BJ said. Not looking at BJ, Malcolm replied, “Didn’t plan on it. It just happened.”

  With a smirk on his face, BJ replied, “Yeah—it just happened!”

  Malcolm and Keisha kept making eye contact throughout the night. When the DJ played Ginuwine’s “So Anxious,” they both looked at each other. That was their song when they were at the peak of their so-called relationship. Almost simultaneously, Malcolm and Keisha began to move towards one another. Keisha turned around so Malcolm could get a glimpse and good feel for what he once had. Malcolm grabbed her by the waist and they both began to dance rhythmically in sequence with the hard drum kicks in the song.  That’s the only dance they shared that night. As soon as the song ended, it felt as if their once blissful relationship could possibly be rekindled.

  With her head tilted to one side, Keisha said, “I’ll be waiting on that lunch date, Mr. Turner.”

  “No doubt!” Malcolm replied.

  It was now 2:00 a.m., and the crowd was still in good spirits. Malcolm had stayed longer than he expected. Everyone was still socializing and enjoying themselves as the DJ began to unwind for the night. All the lights were now on in the club as that was the signature “you ain’t gotta go home, but you got to get the hell out of here”, sign.

  “Yo everybody, it’s been a joy! Remember, let’s keep this momentum going, OBAMMMMMMAAAAAAA!” yelled the overjoyed DJ. The night ended with Seal’s remake of Sam Cooke’s “A change gone come.”

A Political Love Affair

  The security, screaming children, and the frantic business people were on full display at Ronald Reagan National Airport. The atmosphere resembled rush-hour traffic in Atlanta, Georgia. Medgar looked out at the frantic environment that surrounded him. He sat alone in TGI Fridays, named after his favorite day of the week, and checked the time on his black Movado Sero watch. He still had another hour and a half before his flight back to a place where he never wanted to return. He picked up a five dollar bill that had fallen out of a fellow customer’s small cross-body purse.

  “Excuse me ma’am, you dropped this.”

  The woman, looking like she could be in her late 40’s to early 50’s, looked into his gentle green eyes and thanked him for his honesty. He sat back down and looked at the bare ring finger on his left hand. He ran his hands through his naturally curly hair before he flagged the bartender down to ask for another drink. The busy atmosphere in the airport reminded him of what some people thought his life was like…all chaos with no direction. He sat and played a game inside his head wondering, where are these people rushing to? Is it a place they looked forward to returning to? Is it somebody they are rushing to? He pulled out his laptop to finish up some last minute work then quickly turned his body towards the television to listen to the news anchor discussing the presidential election that took place two days prior.

   The restaurant was starting to get crowded. Medgar sighed and put his laptop to sleep. He overheard the two noisy kids asking their mother if she thought he played basketball. Medgar chuckled; people always assumed that he was a basketball player due to his six foot three frame. The conversation of the couple to his left piqued his curiosity. He overheard an older gentleman say, in an agitated tone say, “Four more years of this? I can’t believe it.” Medgar turned to get a visual of the negative commentator. The older gentleman reminded him of his grandfather. He was Caucasian with a few strands of hair clinging to his otherwise bald head. The older man’s female counterpart looked like she could possibly be his wife. Medgar noticed that they were both wearing their wedding rings. He took a sip of his red berry Ciroc, and the napkin that was semi-stuck to the bottom of his glass floated off into the middle of the aisle. He went to retrieve the stubborn napkin and bumped into a woman who was wearing a sexy red business suit. Her legs were long and tight.  He noticed that she worked for Delta Airlines, named after the sorority his ex-fiancée was pledged too. 

   “Pardon me. It seems my napkin has a mind of its own.”

   The woman didn’t respond. She rolled her eyes and wedged her way between two sports fanatics talking about the latest game. Medgar shrugged his shoulders and returned to his table.

   “There’s been a flight delay. I should be there no later than eleven,” the woman in the red dress spoke into her cell phone.

    I wonder what her deal is, Medgar thought to himself. He noticed the woman standing with what he perceived to be two heavy luggage bags. He waved at her and motioned his hand for her to have a seat at his table. She ignored the gesture and turned up her nose. She looked around the restaurant for some more empty spaces and looked back towards Medgar. Why the hell is this fool staring at me? She asked herself. She took off her glasses and wiped the lenses with a small white handkerchief. When she looked up, the fool was standing right in her face. She flinched a little, from having her personal space invaded.

  Medgar smiled. “Do you need a seat?”

  With her glasses still in her hand, the woman looked up at Medgar with piercing; almond- shaped brown eyes and replied, “Do you know me or something?”

  She said it in a manner that caught the attention of some standers-by.

  “No ma’am.” Medgar replied, “I just saw that you were struggling with those bags, and I happen to have enough room for two people at my table.”

  She raised an eyebrow and replied, “Ma’am?”

  Medgar laughed. “I didn’t mean any disrespect. I call everyone ma’am or sir. It’s kind of a habit.”

  She put her glasses back on and replied, “Well, here’s for some future advice; don’t ever call a woman ‘ma’am’ if you don’t want to offend her.”

  Medgar nodded. “Well, the offer still stands.” He turned to walk away then abruptly turned back around and said, “By the way, my name is Medgar…Medgar McKnight.”

   She looked at his extended hand for a second then slowly extended hers and replied, “Myah Bristol.”

  “Nice to meet you, Myah. I hope your feet can take standing for awhile. Those high heels look uncomfortable.” He smiled and walked away. Myah couldn’t help but chuckle to herself. She leaned against the pole for a second and exhaled deeply, then she grabbed her bags and dragged her feet.

  Medgar glanced away from his laptop when he heard the sound of two bags dropping. When he looked up, he saw Myah standing in front of his table. Her long flowing black hair meshed well with her coco skin. She had a skin tone similar to that of certain members of his father’s side of the family.

  “May I?” Myah asked.

   Medgar nodded.

  “Thank you.” She replied.

   Myah sat down and turned sideways, away from Medgar. She quickly glanced over his two-toned skin, which looked like vanilla and chocolate ice cream mixed together. She noticed his business card sitting to the left of his laptop.

  “Traveling on business?”

  Medgar closed his laptop. He took another sip of his drink.

  “Yes and no.” He replied.

  Myah placed her hands on the table and reached for the menu. Medgar noticed that her ring finger was occupied.

  “How long have you been a flight attendant?”

  Myah tsked and replied, “Probably since you were a kid.”

  Medgar unbuttoned his sleeves and rolled them up. She noticed how his blue tie made his green eyes standout. Medgar reminded her of the light-skinned doctor on Grey’s Anatomy. They shared the same boyish qualities.

  “Why would you mark your body up like that?”

  Medgar flexed his arms and replied, “It’s just an expression of me. Every tattoo means something near and dear to me.”

  The waitress appeared and took Myah’s order of a Pomegranate Tonic.

  Myah sighed deeply again.

  “In a hurry?”

 “Aren’t we all?” She replied.

  Myah glanced at the television as President Obama was giving a speech. She rolled her eyes and proceeded to shake her head. Lies, lies and four more years of lies, she mumbled to herself.

  Medgar rubbed over his scruffy five o’clock shadow, then smiled and shook his head.

 “What’s so funny?” Myah asked.

 “Nothing oh, nothing.” Medgar replied.

 She tilted her head and replied, “What? You don’t think he’s a liar? Aren’t all Democrats liars?”

  Medgar sighed. “Somebody’s been visiting the Republican tea party…Glad I wasn’t invited.”

  A scrowl formed on Myah’s face. She took off her glasses and flicked her hair.

  “Excuse me?”

  “You’re excused.”

  Myah gave a sarcastic laugh. “Somebody’s been drinking the Obama ‘cool’ aid.”

  “Remember down-to-earth people drink kool-aid and you uppity-up’s sip tea!” Medgar replied.

  Myah shot Medgar an, oh-no-you-didn’t lookasthe waitress put Myah’s drink on the table. Myah stuck her pinky in her drink and touched it to her tongue before taking a sip.

  “You probably think Fox News’ word is bond, don’t you?” Medgar asked.

  “And I bet you’ve got CNN on speed dial,” she replied. “Look I don’t have time for this!” Myah said.

  He placed his hand on her left hand and said, “Relax, I’m just messing around.”

 Normally, she would have instantly tugged her hand away, but something was keeping her hand still. Maybe it was the chutzpah and cojones the young man exhibited. 

  Removing his hand, Medgar asked, “How long have you been married?”

  “Probably since you was a baby.

  Medgar smiled, showing off his perfectly aligned teeth. “That can’t be true. Anyway, he’s a very lucky man.”

  Myah’s facial expression changed again. She cleared her throat.

  “So… What about you? Married? Kids?”

  Medgar looked at his hand.

 “I was engaged.”

  “Was?” She asked.

 “Yep…Was.”

 “Let me guess, you had an affair? I know you Democrats are good for that. I got two words for you; Bill Clinton.”

  She laughed at her own joke.

 “That’s the first smile I’ve seen on your face and you put it there yourself. I’d rather have the pleasure of doing that.”

  She smiled again and shook her head.

 “So, are you looking forward to getting back to your husband?”

 Her facial expression darkened again. She hesitated, sighed and replied, “He’s a Democrat.”

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