Chapter 2 – Gospel Concert
The rain stops just as Sarah is leaving the drugstore parking lot to head home. Sarah pulls into the narrow driveway of her duplex. She sees her roommate’s black Camaro parked askew which forces her to squeeze her way in with the left side of the car skimming the grass. She slams her door and tip toes gingerly in the muddy grass as there was no room to walk on the gravel. “I’mma get Denise for this,” she mutters under her breath while shaking her head.
“Honey, I’m home!” she playfully exclaims to Denise. Denise is just getting out of the shower wearing her robe with a towel wrapped around her hair and piled high like a turban. She has a toothbrush wedged in her mouth as she flashes Sarah a frothy smile.
“Eww, Denise! Nasty put some clothes on! And don’t be showing me all that toothpaste in your mouth!” Sarah goes on to tell Denise how much she enjoyed church. Then she proceeds to tell Denise about the two cute men she met. Denise raises her eyebrows to denote more interest. She could care less about the service, she wanted to see about getting Sarah a man. She rinses out her mouth and sits attentively on the couch for the details. “Ooh, girl! Tell me about the men. Were any chocolate?”
Sarah laughed. Well, one was. Well, not really chocolatey. He was more like was coffee. The other was light-skinned. Both were cute though. But I’m not trying to get involved in nothing right now. I’m working on me. Plus, I still have unfinished business as you know.”
“Did you get the morning-after-pill?” Denise inquired switching to a more serious face. “Yes, girl. Just in time,” Sarah replied. “Had I been 10 minutes later, it would have been a problem. A WHOLE problem. I shouldn’t have waited so late. They only give you 48 hours to take the durn thing, but I was feeling cheap. Those pills cost $40 a pop!”
“Girl, I know first hand. Those pharmacists know me on a first name basis. When they see me coming, they head back to get it. Haha! Maybe I should get on birth control.”
Sarah remarked, “Me too, but I want to be abstinent. I feel like getting birth control will serve as my license to sin.”
Denise retorted, “Girl, sex is not a sin. God made it. It’s beautiful It’s His gift to mankind.” Sarah replied, “No, it’s His gift to married people. And I don’t want to be partaking of something that’s not meant for me at this time. A gift out of time is worse than not getting a gift at all,” Sarah’s voice faded out. Denise rolled her eyes. “All I know is that if God didn’t want single people having sex, He wouldn’t given us the equipment and the know-how.”
Sarah couldn’t agree with that. She had been raised in church all of her life. Her parents had brought her up in a traditional, holiness church. Everything was a sin there. Drinking, smoking, cursing, and especially sex before marriage. Her father had even made her and her sister wear skirts as little girls because the small country church they were raised up in as children was stricter than most churches. The women were dissuaded from wearing make-up and even extensions. They didn’t even care for them to wear flashy jewelry nor arch their eyebrows. So even though things had changed in her denomination over the years and they had become more open-minded, she still felt a stinging guilt whenever she engaged in premarital sex. Her roommate had always teased her by calling her, “Saved, Single, and Having Sex” after some book they had come across in a bookstore one day. It was humorous, but it still left her feeling convicted.
But Sarah didn’t want to repeat that conversation with Denise. Denise already knew her upbringing. But furthermore, Sarah didn’t tell her the REAL reason she had waited so long to take the emergency contraceptive. It was because up until early that Sunday morning, she had thought they maybe she WANTED to get pregnant with her ex’s child. Maybe it would put an end to all that making up and breaking up. They say the first break never takes, but in her case neither had the second, the third, or the fourth. She just couldn’t get Jason out of her system. And she wasn’t sure that she wanted to. She loved him and had loved him since she was 20. But she realized early that Sunday morning, that this wasn’t a match made in heaven.
Denise interrupted her wandering thoughts by mentioning that she was going to the James Tapp gospel concert in a few hours. Sarah exclaimed, “Oh, really?! Why didn’t you tell me?! You know how much I love him.” Denise replied, “You can still come. It’s not too late. It’s gonna be a few other gospel artists performing there to.” Sarah said, “But I don’t have a ticket. Money has been tight. I had to spend the would-have-been ticket money on that pill remember? And I don’t get paid ’til next Friday.” Denise grinned and said, well you’re in luck. Charron just text me saying she couldn’t make it. Her trifling babysitter couldn’t come through. So she has to stay home and watch Trevor. So it appears I have an extra ticket for anyone who’s interested…”
Sarah gave Denise a big hug and ran upstairs to find something to wear. She’d be wearing the heels tonight. She knew that black gospel concerts doubled as fashion shows. Besides, maybe meeting some more cute men would help her to get over Jason. She raided her closet for something to wear. She was looking for something in particular. She wanted something modest, but something that would also get some male attention. At this point, she didn’t care whether it was negative or positive. Besides, she also knew that whenever you went with Denise somewhere, you had to come correct. Denise had naturally good looks. Typical to her Native American descent, she had long, flowing hair to her waist, fair skin, and high cheekbones. She was also a certified fashionista. It was hard not to be overlooked when going out with Denise. Sarah decided on the high-waisted skirt pencil skirt. The skirt accentuated her narrow waist and gave her the illusion of hips which she was not naturally blessed with. She donned a button-down white long-sleeve blouse made of chiffon. She accented it with the black, patent leather Jessica Simpson pumps with a buckle around the ankle. She applied a glittery MAC lip gloss and a thin black eyeliner to give her a simple beauty. On second thought, she decided to accent her full lips with a deep red matte lipstick. She had prided herself on being au naturel. She wasn’t much for foundation and such. She had clear skin and didn’t need it anyway, but she wore the lipstick to help her to stand out. When both roommates were done, they stepped into Denise’s sports car, inserted the newest Lecrae CD to get them in the gospel music mood, and sped off towards the concert.
As they neared the huge downtown church building housing the concert, they marveled at the large crowds that were heading towards the main entrance. Just as she had expected, there was fashion. Dozens of male twenty-somethings strutted about cockily dressed in narrow, well-tailored suits, bright bow-ties with matching pocket handkerchiefs, a long, curve-toed Stacy Adams. Most of the men had either well-oiled and well-brushed waves or freshly-twisted dreadlocks braided back into ponytails and buns. Likewise, the females pranced about in their Christian Louboutin look-a-likes, various assortment of fishnet stockings, and brightly-colored dresses, skirts, and blouses. Everyone was smiling as they crossed from group to group to meet up with familiar faces. The younger girls talked and laughed loudly to get the attention of the nearby huddles of young boys who were discreetly eying them.
Denise and Sarah hurriedly brushed past the crowds towards the doors with their tickets in plain view. While the others were congregating, they wanted to get good seats and to freshen their make-up. They went into the nearest women’s room which was filled with young women primping and preening themselves in the row of mirrors that lined the wall opposite of the toilets. Denise disappeared into one of the empty stalls.
The restroom was bustling with the women competing for mirror space. Of all the women three stood out in particular. They apparently had come together. One was taller than the others. She was shapely. She wore red fishnet stockings to coincide with the long red Remy extensions she had cascading down her shoulders in loose curls. She leaned over the sink in the mirror to apply some matte red lipstick. She then stood up to pull down her tight white dress. The friend to her left was a few inches shorter. She was petite, about the same size of Sarah, so she couldn’t have been over 110 lbs. She likewise wore a tight dress only it was black. She wore a red blazer with the sleeves rolled up just below her elbow. She had her hair shaved low on one side and the other side was full with wavy weave down in front of her shoulder. Unlike the women outside, she had real Louboutins. Sarah wondered if she had the money to buy them herself or if maybe she had to do a favor or two to get them. The third friend was stocky. She had thick long braids that were swept up on top of her head in a neat bun. She was the louder of the three. She had on black tights with a sheer button-down shirt that barely met the top of her tights. Beneath her shirt, you could somewhat see her bra. Sarah wondered if she should tell the lady, but something told her it was intentionally exposed. She had a cute face, but had wore so much contouring make-up it was distracting. The stocky friend playfully nudged the smallest one so that she could see the mirror to reapply her lip gloss. “Girl, move yo skinny butt out the way! You been in the mirror every since we got in here.” The small one replied, “Niecy, you don’t need a mirror to put on lip gloss as big as your lips are. I need to make sure my eyebrows are drawn on straight. The left one looks thicker than the right.” The tallest one seemed oblivious to their conversation. She was too focused on her impressive waist-to-hip ratio. She said to her two friends, “Girls, does this dress make my butt look big?” “The petite friend said, “Yup. Kim Kardashian big.” To that the tall friend smiled and said, “Perfect. Just the look I was going for. Who knows? I might meet my Kanye here tonight.” Her eyes never left her reflection in the mirror as she made different angles making pouty lips.
When Denise came out of her stall, she said excuse me to the three young ladies so that she could wash her hands. The stocky friend replied, “Excuse me,” only it was not in a polite manner. Denise shrugged her shoulders and proceeded to wash her hands. She powdered her slim nose and smoothed down her long hair. When she finished, the three stooges looked at each other and laughed. Denise, not to be outdone, grabbed a can of air freshener and asked Sarah, “Ooh, girl, do you smell that? It stinks in here!” Denise expelled an excessive amount of the air freshener high above the three women’s heads and put down the can. Her and Sarah laughed out loud as they let the bathroom door slam behind them.
Just as they claim their seats, Sarah immediately recognizes the voice of the emcee. It’s the Dave guy from church. “Look, Denise! That’s one of the dudes I was telling you about that I met at church. Ain’t he fine?!”
Dave lifts the mic off the stand and says, “Good afternoon, Saints, and welcome to our Annual Youth Day Gospel Concert! Let me hear you make some noise! Come on now. I know you all can do better than that! These men have come from all over the country to show some love for the youth of Memphis. We even have a Grammy-nominated, Stellar-award winning artist who could have been performing at sold-out concerts in L.A., Atlanta, New York, Houston, wherever, but he decided to put on a show for half the price as a favor to my grandfather and as a token of their love for the Memphis youth and young adults. Half of the proceeds will go to five lucky seniors as scholarships. And we will announce who they are after the concert, so stay until we do that. As some of you may know, I am the Youth Pastor of New Jerusalem which is located just three blocks down the street. Our church was founded by my grandfather Bishop Norris L. Hendrickson. It is currently pastored by my father Sal Hendrickson. Make sure you all come visit some time. But that’s just my plug in. But you all didn’t come to hear about me and my church, you came here to hear these gospel stars. We have a few new artists who will open for the main artist, none other than the Mr. James Sapp! So without further ado, let’s hear a loud round of applause for the first performers, the Hope Boiz!”
The huge crowd goes wild. The Hope Boiz was a new gospel rap group that had recently been shot into fame with their latest album, “From the Trap House to the Church House”. They were all very handsome men who despite their cheesy stage name were very talented. Wherever they went, the women were sure to follow. They were the best of both worlds. So many church girls wanted bad boys, but they also wanted saved boys. They wanted the badness that came with Dope Boys, but they wanted church boys too to please their parents. They dressed like thugs. They were tatted up, they wore sagging pants, and they spoke in slang. It wasn’t Sarah’s taste in men, but apparently it appealed to many other church women.
After the Hope Boiz did their most popular songs followed by a couple of new ones, a couple of other local artists sang a couple of selections. Sarah and Denise and the others were having a great time, but all were waiting anxiously for when it would be time for James Tapp to perform. The crowd went even wilder than before. James Tapp was a cool metrosexual type. He dressed like many of the men in Sarah’s denomination did. He wore a very finely tailored suit. Even from the tenth row, Sarah could see that the suit couldn’t have been less than a $2,000. Beneath the suit jacket, he wore a crisp, white and grey polka dot shirt whose cuffs and collar perfectly matched his socks. He wore diamond cuff links that glistened in the overhead stage lights. It shined just as much as his platinum and diamond wedding band. His light-skinned face was neatly shaven with a low beard and mustache. He had long dreadlocks that were gathered into a low ponytail. The locks swung back and forth as he walked the stage singing and leaving the audience in amazement and awe. Around her, Sarah could hear the men and women alike marveling at his sense of style and his smooth voice. He couldn’t hit a bad note if he was paid to. He had a range like Jessica Reedy and could hit runs like J. Moss. He performed even better than Sarah had expected. Denise and Sarah snapped away with their camera phones and made frequent picture posts on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook to their followers and friends who were unable to attend. What a great way to end what started off as such a bad day for Sarah.
After the concert had ended and the five seniors had received their scholarships, Sarah and Denise filed out into the hallway. After a few minutes, Sarah was pleasantly surprised to run into Dave. He smiled at her and gave her a hug. “Didn’t think I’d see you twice in one day,” Dave said. Sarah introduced him to her roommate, and they all talked about how much they enjoyed the concert. As they stood around people-watching, Dave excused himself. Said something about having to make a quick call to see if the limo was waiting outside for James Tapp. After confirming that it was, he put his focus back on the two roommates. He asked if he could walk them to their car. Sarah obliged. They walked into the brisk evening air just in time to see James Tapp duck into the waiting limo. He cracked his window to thank Dave. The three walked to the black Camaro, and Dave opened Sarah’s door for her and then shut her door behind her. She lowered her window to thank him again. He reminded her of the new membership class which would be this Saturday at noon if she cared to join the church. They all exchanged good-byes.
While Denise looked through her purse for her phone charger, Sarah smiled while humming some of the Hope Boiz lyrics. She looked in the side-view mirror and noticed a limousine pulling up behind them. It was James Tapp’s limo. After a few brief moments, she saw a familiar face. It was the shapely redhead she saw in the restroom. Where were her two flunkies? Sarah kept looking in the side-view mirror. After quickly looking over her shoulders, the redhead smiled mischievously as she crawled into the back of the limousine.