I sat back in my seat bracing for take off waiting for the butterflies to awaken in my stomach. Flying tripped me out because I could never grasp the concept of a man-made craft that soared like a bird. The thought of being above the clouds without my own set of wings as backup scared the hell out of me — or should I say, scared the heaven in me.
Getting from point A to point B within hours was the incentive that allowed me to overcome any fears about flying — let’s face it, I’d rather take the risk instead of a two-day drive. Sitting in a car for hours on my ass was neither appealing nor inviting to the kid.
This trip I was taking would put me far away from a depression developing back home. Traveling alone was going to be a big challenge for me, because it was something I never imagined doing with the crutch of company. My thirty-sixth birthday was nine months away, and I decided to start living my life-like the free spirit I knew I was deep down. I had spent enough of my life shackled to what was familiar, and changing how I lived became an untamed passion.
Many years had been wasted on unforgivable reservations about being who I was. Hiding my gayness and trying to be someone I knew I could never be had consumed me totally. At seventeen I wanted to be cool and accepted by my peers whom, back then, were the epitome of coolness. They smoked weed, cigarettes, and drank malt liquor. I became part of the click and spent my early twenties stoned out of my skull.
Having fun and being accepted was the motivator which kept me happy, but without warning my desires and needs slowly began to change. One by one I began breaking the ties until, eventually, I had lost contact with every one of them. For a brief period I tried hobnobbing with the theater crowd, but after a year they started getting on my nerves. My down-to-earth personality would not allow me to stay in the company of name-droppers and phonies for longer than a year.
One of them was extremely talented and he went on to become an active stage actor. His big break hadn’t come as of yet, but it was just a matter of time. I was closest to him but his confidence intimidated me, so I sabotaged the friendship. I faked out on that dude so much until he just grew tired of dealing with my mood swings which, I’m sure, were brought on by the marijuana I was smoking daily. Once he discovered that I had the habit I allowed the embarrassment I felt inside to kill the remaining parts of the friendship we had fostered.
The other dude was a snobby, effeminate, annoying little punk. His mannerisms, arrogance, and stand-offish personality drove me up the highest wall. I tried my best to like him but he made it clear that anyone who wasn’t from an ivy-league school had no place in their circle. His brother, however, was a cute, soft-spoken, music composer — gentle, but manly. I fell head over heals for him instantly, but he wouldn’t give me the time of day. I got the opportunity to ask him, three years later, why he wouldn’t go out to dinner with me back in the day. The excuse he gave me was so lame I don’t even want to remember it.
This trip was truly a spiritual one. My world’s skies had to get clearer and I wasn’t going to rest until I had made that clarity happen. If I allowed my living to be in vain, then no one else would be to be blame — just me, myself, and I. Part of me wanted to run back home, but looking out the double-paned window of the aircraft I caught a glimpse of God’s beauty below. The sight gave me a shot of strength in the veins of my soul. I could do this.
Bishop was probably wondering where I had gone because, by now, he had probably made his usual impromptu visit to my apartment. He was predictable like that. I had been too, however, that was now going to be a retired action.
The plane landed in Miami on time. By the time 5:00pm flashed on my wristwatch, I was sitting in my hotel suite, freshly showered, and sprawled out on the king sized bed, floating from the bottle of champagne I had consumed in thirty minutes. It was waiting on ice when I arrived in the room, compliments of my travel agent. I made a mental note to hook up her up with a nice little trinket from my travels.
Determined to test my newly developed wings, I quickly jumped up and got dressed, following my sudden impulse to get out. I made a conscious decision to go to dinner at a restaurant which, alone, would be uncomfortable. I sprayed a light shower of cologne on my neck, then my wrists — rubbing them together to allow the scent to penetrate into my skin. Grooming one’s self was essential. You could tell a lot about someone by their appearance, and even though I believed in this, I usually never allowed myself to spend too much time in front of the mirror –over grooming. That anal routine had never been a part of my character — I had no desire to be that type of brotha.
Black was the color of my entire ensemble, down to my shoes which were loafers. My shirt was a collarless number — it matched the color of my loose-fitting, cuffed baggies. My weight seemed less, however, wearing all black usually created that illusion — thank God!
I was seated ten minutes after arriving at the somewhat crowded seafood eatery. The waitress was this chocolate-colored beauty whose name tag had “Jana” printed on it. Against her dark skin, her wide-perfect smile was radiantly white. She had a killer body, so the uniform hugged every curve just right. It was nice being greeted with warmth and courtesy from one of you own (Black Folk). LOL
“Can I start you off with a glass of wine, sir?” She asked in a friendly tone. Her accent sounded like an islander’s — you know, Caribbean.
“That would be right on time, and thank you,” I said. The smile I returned wasn’t forced either. I really did feel her vibe.
“Great! I’ll return in a moment with your drink and be ready to take your order. Is house wine okay?” She asked with a polite professionalism.
“Yes, white house-wine is fine,” was my response. I wasn’t picky when it came to wine, but I appreciated her inquiry. Now, even though I wasn’t picky, I did draw the line when it came to rock gut verses inexpensive. Thunderbird had kicked my ass once and only once. LOL
For dinner I ordered a seafood sampler which consisted of; grilled mahi-mahi, broiled shrimp, scallops, and a baby lobster tail. I was in heaven. The cholesterol was on my plate, but I didn’t give a damn. You only lived once, so why not partake in some of life’s delicacies.
I finished the entire plate off in fifteen minutes (with my greedy ass). LOL
“Can I take your plate, sir?” The bus boy asked. His voice startled me because I was so preoccupied eating I didn’t see him sneak up.
When I looked up I froze.
The dude was an Adonis.
I couldn’t speak at frist because his tall, muscular-frame, and his masculine aura and drop-dead good looks had me spellbound. His thick eye-brows were spread evenly above two-lovely, light brown eyes, almost connecting in the center. The goatee he sported was evenly trimmed and it wrapped around his two, luscious, soft-looking lips.
I wondered if I was being too obvious but, you know something, I couldn’t help myself. His light brown-skin had a deep, alluring, tropical tan. It was smoother than a satin handkerchief, and I couldn’t help but imagine myself touching it and licking it.
“Sir, are you okay?” He asked, with this calm, kind, expression on his face.
Damn, I must’ve really looked silly to him, but his smile eased my worries.
“Dude, I’m so sorry. You must model, don’t you?” I asked, which sounded so lame I wanted to kick myself. I actually wanted to say something corny like; did you just jump into my dreams, but I didn’t want to offend him.
He looked at me and said, “Me? You’re kidding, right?”
Was he serious? How could he be walking around looking like that and not know it.
I looked at his name tag because I wanted to address him by his name, it read: Free.
His name was Free.
What a perfect name for someone whose beauty made you wanna be Free, stay Free, and run Free.
“Free? Is that really what your mama named you, or did you just change it so some random person would strike up a conversation with you?” I asked, flirtatiously.
“My parents named me Free so that I would always remember Freedom, which many died for to make this life I live possible.”
He smiled afterwards.
“So your full name is Freedom, right?”
I couldn’t believe someone so handsome was actually this nice and talking to me.
“Yes,” he said, with a lingering stare that wrapped me up in its warmth.
“I know you just love gazing at the stars because your eyes have a peace about them,” I said, wanting him to prolong his visit to my table.
“The stars, the ocean, and the mountains. God lives in all of them. Sometimes I long to be there,” he said, giving my chills new chills.
“You parents created a remarkable and beautiful human being, Free.”
I wanted to hold him close to me badly.
I wanted to inhale his essence repeatedly.
I wanted to feel his warmth blending into mine…
“Thank you…I’m sorry, what’s your name fella,” he asked, placing his right hand over his heart.
“Isreal Thomas,” I said, extending my hand to shake his.
“That name has a history all its own, man. Your parents must’ve…” his sentence was interupted by Jana’s untimely reappearance.
“What are you two talking about?” She asked, grinning from ear to ear, looking back and forth at both of us, giggling like she knew something that I didn’t know. I wasn’t sure if Free knew either.
“The history behind our names,” Free stated.
“He said he’d make it over to his table,” she said, blowing the lid off of their secret, which made him blush profusely.
“Be quiet, silly!” he exclaimed.
“No, it’s cool,” I assured him. I couldn’t believe that what we were feeling was mutual.
“Really? Man, the moment I laid eyes on you I was sprung,” he confessed, which had me trying to figure out what he saw so attractive about overweight me.
“Say, when does your shift end,” I asked, anxiously waiting for his response.
“In forty-five minutes,” Jana announced before he had a chance to answer.
“He asked me, fish,” Free said, chuckling.
“Okay, then I’ll sit and chill for a while, but both of you had better get back to work before they fire you,” I warned.
“Yup, you said that right, both of us.”
The two disappeared behind the dark, shiny, wooden doors that led to the kitchen.
Free was splendid and I wanted to explore his mind and anatomy. Back home I never would have met anyone as charming as Free. Now don’t get me wrong, I knew they existed back home, but too many of them were into materialism and had a one-dimensional quality about them. They were three-word communicators — “I know, huh”.
As I waited for my new acquaintance to finish his shift I scanned the room, observing various facial expressions, hand gestures, and even eavesdropped on a few conversations in progress between people at their respective tables. People watching was quiet an amusing past time in my eyes, because people did and said some of the most entertaining things.
Being so far away from home was an experience that I had underrated for too long. The peace I felt inside had my entire body tingling with calm. My limbs were free of tension and for the first time in a while my thoughts were uncluttered by the worries associated with my life.
I noticed a pair of couples sitting at this one table engaged in what appeared to be a heavy discussion. The two women seemed annoyed with the behaviors of their two male companions. I wasn’t sure what the topic was about, but I knew it was getting heated. All four were dressed in formal attire. The guys had on the traditional black-tux with tails, and wore white-wing-tiped shirts with matching bow ties that complimented their dark, ebony, complexions. Their female companions had on elegant, form-fitting, gowns. Both were noticeably pretty.
The fair-skinned of the two women wore peach, the other red. I could sense by their reactions that both were growing increasingly tired of the antics of their men. Ms. Peach eventually stood up from the table, threw her linen napkin into the face of the guy who, obviously, was her date.
“You pretentious, arrogant, son of a bitch!” She shouted.
“Melanie,” he said, “sit your butt down and stop making a scene!”
The devilish grin that followed his request assured me that he had gotten under her skin on purpose.
People at other tables began to whisper amongst themselves — most likely commenting on the show. My quiet evening was coming to an end, and had I not been waiting for Free, I would have left the establishment with a quickness.
“The next place my butt will be sitting is in a cab!” She announced, storming away from the dinner table, as well as, from the meal that had just arrived.
Her chuckling male friend took off after her. His sensitivity left little to be desired. I couldn’t stand men like him, because they were experts at pushing the buttons of others. A bit off home crept back into my mental, reminding me of what was waiting for me upon my return.
This tropical paradise was no different from the Bay Area. People were the same where ever you went, and I felt foolish about romantic images I had concocted in my mind. The air was warmer, as were the ocean waters, however, Florida and California shared a coldness that, I’m sure, existed in every state and country on this tiny blue globe.
“Isreal, are you feeling okay?” He asked. “What’s that disturbed, far away look in your eyes about, handsome?”
Free’s remark irritated me because I knew I”d have to determine if his sentiments were genuine or manipulative.
“I’m okay,” I assured him, “but let’s have an honest chat before we leave.”
My reply erased the grin on his face, momentarily.
“Free, there’s something I need to know before we continue,” I said to him.
I was determined to stay in control with this guy. My emotions weren’t going to lead me into heartbreak this time.
The baffled expression on his face was one of concern. I studied his eyes, searching for a hint of deception in them, because if I could locate the smallest amount of player in them, he would be history.
I observed him as he carefully chose his words.
“Dude, I’m sure that whatever you need to ask me is warranted, but hold off before you ask. Give me a chance to let you see in my actions what I’m about, deal?” He asked, taking me by the hand.
Sincerity was all I could see. I heard his voice convey what his eyes could not and had no choice but to hold him to his poetic promise that reinstated what I was feeling. He was charming and appeared to be spiritually connected.
“Cool,” was all I could utter.
We left the restaurant and walked to his jeep. The air was humid and smelled of coastal fragrances. Driving without anything above you except a starry sky was a joy without description.
No words were spoken the first five-miles, which I thought was odd, yet magical. Freedom’s bald-head picked up the moon’s sliver hue like a magnet, and for a brief second everything about him seemed unreal — too good to be true.
(Well, that’s it for now…. I’m going to get everything all typed up and edited over the next few weeks. It looks as if this, my true, very first novel will be available soon. Hope you enjoyed this sneak peek.
My other novels, “Daddy” and “With Arms Around Me” are coming along nicely as well. God bless, and for all you writers out there, keep on trucking).
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Author G. D. Grace reserves all rights and reproduction without written permission is not permitted. If found, legal action will be taken against the person(s) or company(s) that have cut or pasted (Plagiarized) any portion of this written document. Author, G. D. Grace; Published © 1991 September