I took my last pull on the cigarette. Letting my cheeks suck in, trying to grab all the nerves, and anxiety out of me before releasing in a shaky breath.
Hate smoking, but when my nerves were this bad, and they never are….I needed something to numb the feeling.
This letter. This paper that was trembling in my hands, I pulled up once more to look at the address I scribbled on the bottom before looking up at the apartment building. It was midnight, early fall in Atlanta, and I could smell the rain in the air ready to come.
“What is this shit?” I muttered, staring back at the letter in confusion before looking up at the apartment building. A single light was on in the second floor window where curtains were drawn. Shadows moved behind it, occasionally staring out the window before disappearing. Only thing you could hear was the sound of laughter, faint music from a party nearby, and a few cars going, and coming in the complex.
Before I could move, the apartment door at the bottom opened, releasing the loud music, laughter, and weed plowing out like thick clouds as two men stepped outside to talk. One took a look at me before smiling.
“Who you waiting on?” One of them asked as I stepped forward in my busted chucks. Wearing nothing but a long gray t-shirt, ripped denim shorts with tights covering my legs. I was all skin, and bones. Model petite size with frizzy brown hair that I kept braided down into cornrows. Bright green eyes against my sandy brown complexion, identical to my mother, and weak nails that I constantly chewed down to the skin. If you couldn’t tell by my appearance, I claimed no home, vehicle or car. Every I have depends on the moves I make.
“Nobody in particular,” I said, seeing a row of teeth in the dark smile.
“You tryna party? Come kick it with us?” Another voice asked. “Tryna have a good time shawty?”
“Nigga nobody says shawty around here anymore, where you from?” I asked, hearing them laugh as I stepped closer.
“You mixed? What’s yo name?” He asked.
“Tammi,” I made up. “And I’m black. My mother is white, but I’m as black as they see me.”
Course that went over their heads because they were only interested in one thing.
“Aight Tammi, come inside. We just getting started. Drinks, food, smoke...whatever you tryna get into, we can make it happen. Just come in.”
“Ain’t nothing free about me,” I said in a sultry tone as I could see one closer to the door slip an hand in his pocket before flashing the thick band.
They knew what it was. They knew what I was about, so it was no need to waste my time or theirs any further. I started to make my way over when two cars, one after the other came flashing their headlights down the road before slowly turning directly in front of me with the lights shining like a spotlight against my face. I could see a brown girl with worried eyes looking at me as she cut the lights off.
Looking back at the boys, what I thought was a party happening in the door on the first floor was suddenly a cold solid apartment door closed shut with no sign of music, no trace of scent of weed, nothing to show the guys were just out here talking.
“Hi, you got one of the letters too?” A girl jumped out, waving her paper in her hand as she looked around. “I was hoping I wasn’t stupid enough to drive myself to a kidnapping.” Her joke fell on deaf ears as I looked around for the two men standing outside.
“So, is this a joke?” Another woman asked as I looked to see her step out of her black Lexus. Hair flowing halfway down her back in waves. She reeked of money, success, and aggy black woman who thought she was better than everyone. “A prostitute, and the help?”
I looked at the girl who I could see coil at the words as the woman looked down at her letter. Clearly pissed.
“I’m supposed to have something in common with you all? Obviously they don’t know me very much,” she stated, slamming her car door shut as she clicked her alarm twice. Without a glance our way except to show her nostrils as she looked down at us, she started for the metal stairs.
“Apartment 4B. Has anyone even attempted to knock?” She asked out loud. I looked at the girl wearing her Dragon Ball Z shirt, and jeans with a hooded jacket over it. Small afro barely raised an inch or two from her head as she followed behind.
“Helloooo?!” The woman started, knocking on the door. “I got this letter!? Someone left on my desk! How you managed to get past my assistant, or the lobby is beyond me! I texted the number, and it sent me here! If this is a set up, just know I have 911 on speed dial! I’m not the one to play with! Don’t let these heels, and proper english get you fucked up!”
“What the fuck is this shit man…” I muttered to myself, ready to crumble the paper up as I followed last behind the geek up the stairs. Hallway was barely lit with the single light above flickering on, and off. All the doors were black except for the one Boss Lady was banging on. It was painted a dark winter, almost emerald like green with 4B painted in red on the front. Chipped gold door knob didn’t match the silver ones everyone else had, but we still stood in front of the door waiting. I know somebody was home because this was the only window light that was on with shadows moving behind it.
“Hellooooo?!” Boss Lady banged, fist pounding on the door as I looked around. Wondering if anybody was going wake up from this shit, and have something to say.
“Well nobody's home. I’m going to call the police because this is pure harassment, and stalking. Leaving desperate letters behind to pray on women. This is how they get you, this is how they get women on the streets.”
I rolled my eyes but the sound of laughter from behind the door caused us all to stop as we stared at the green structure. We could hear feet padding closer, and closer until something slid up against the door like they were looking through the peephole before the locks clicked.
Despite the obvious difference between us, we stood close together, huddled against the unknown. Ready to take off any moment because this could be a set up but instead, the door opened wide revealing a tall dark skin woman wearing a black robe, hooded eyes, and hair pulled back in a ponytail that was clearly weave. She smiled just as another head popped up from behind her. A woman with thick locs placed in a high ponytail, cat like eyes that rolled over each of us, and a cheshire cat smile that stretched from ear to ear. Just as dark as the first, the last face to appear was a petite shapely woman I’ve seen before in the news. On TV. Small eyes, and round chipmunk cheeks holding a wine glass with brown caramel complexion, she waved.