Brown Sugar and Whiskey Volume 2
Volume 2 “Celebrity Free Pass” is a complete work of fiction. All characters and events in this volume – even those seemingly based on real people – are completely fictionalized.
[Pouring Some Black Bush]
Playing games with love and sex is insane – but we do it anyways. And while flirtation outside of a relationship, of any kind, disclosed or not, could help rekindle an existing but fading relationship – there is always a price to pay. For most of us that price is our mind – in which unending thoughts of what could be, become all consuming, haunting the imagination, lurking in dreams, and ultimately causing us to make poorer and poorer decisions, ensuring a realization of those very possibilities, that never, ever should be.
And as this young couple is about to find out – even flirting with celebrity crushes can have repercussions. Because, on occasions, people do meet their favorite celebrities, and because chemical attraction is an unpredictable and indiscriminate son-of-a-bitch, even the remotest of possibilities can become a reality.
So pour yourself a small sampling of a great whiskey, sit back, sip slow, and enjoy.
Cheers – Jameson
“Celebrity Free Pass”
“You know she won’t have nothing to do with you, don’t you? Right?”
“Whatever! I’m still good looking for a black man in my early forties”
“Yeah, if you think a beer belly and a greying beard is sexy”
“She didn’t have to say that“, Ezekiel thought to himself. At least he worked out somewhat regularly. And for damn sure if he even mentioned the thirty pounds she put on over the last couple of years, it would result in a rare but earth shattering fight that they had not had in who knew how long. So, he decided to leave it alone.
“Just turn it up please.”
“It’s playing from your phone. You turn it up.”
Ezekiel didn’t even want to try to explain that his phone was all the way up and that the eight year old minivan stereo which barely connected to any Bluetooth device, but right next to Sheila, the driver, was the thing needing to be turned up. Besides, he was on the second row of the family vehicle because Quentin, their eleven-year-old son insisted on riding shotgun after the last pee stop. And who stops four times on a five-hour road trip from L.A. to Vegas anyway?!
“Never mind. I got it.” Ezekiel gave up and began to lean forward, “I see you’re still a bit jealous of what we got.” Ezekiel emphasized ‘we got’ in Sheila’s ear as he reached up from the second row of seats to turn up the minivan stereo.
“Nigga please. Who is ‘We‘? She don’t even know who Ezekiel Lyle Jackson even is.”
“Maybe. Maybe not yet. But the same could be said for you and what’s his name too, can’t it?”
“Who’s ‘what’s his name’?” – Sheila asked even though she immediately knew who he was talking about. It could only be one of two celebrity crushes that she’d even dare to mention to Ezekiel just to even out the playing field whenever he brought up that bitch Jil. She just wanted to make sure he knew the names of her go to men too.
“That light eyed brotha. What’s his name? Mitchel, Mike, Mario Eli?”
“Oh no he didn’t” Sheila thought to herself. She looked back in the rear view mirror to make sure their other two kids, nine year old fraternal twins Jacobi and Jessi were still asleep too. Jessi was awake, so Sheila didn’t curse out loud like she wanted. “Michael Ely” she said as if Ezekiel was the dumbest person she’d ever met.
“Oh! Yeah, that’s him. Whatever. And why you talking like that? I mean I can’t keep up with every pretty boy in Hollywood you like.”
“Yeah but you ain’t got no problem keeping up with those reality hoes you be slobbering over do you?”
“Reality hoes? Slobbering? Me? Not even. Those fake bubble butt, hardly paid cause they ain’t got talent, reality show chicken heads don’t do nothing for me.”
“Sure, they don’t.”
“Whatever Sheila, you know those women don’t do nothing for me.”
“But Jil Scot does, don’t she?” Sheila swerved into the passing lane on I-15 and intentionally stomped on the gas pedal to get by the annoying grandma driven Cadillac slowing her down for the past few minutes.
“Hey! Slow down!” Ezekiel wanted to say something smart, but he wasn’t sure if Sheila was truly upset or playing anymore. Sure, the banter back and forth about celebrity crushes was usually good ‘fake jealousy’ foreplay, but this seemed different.
“You need to slow down cause you know you can’t see that well at sunset”.
“Oh, I see clearly Ezekiel. I see real clearly and have been ever since you bought those stupid tickets.”
Sheila’s voice was undeniable. She was upset over something, Ezekiel was sure of it. But he wasn’t really sure what it was about. So, he immediately started to approach the delicate situation with the tact of a man who was an expert at diffusing his wife’s unknowable emotional reaction to something he said or did, but had no frigging clue what it was
“Heeeeyyyyy”, Ezekiel said in an appeasing voice as he reached for his phone and turned down the song by Jil Scot again, “What’s going on?”
The speedometer, which was accelerating past eighty-two, began to back down. Sheila moved into the right-lane in front of the grandma Cadillac whose lights were quickly fading in the distance.
Sheila felt her eyes begin to water. She wasn’t sure why she felt like tearing up, she was the one who told Ezekiel to buy the Las Vegas concert tickets anyways. But still there was something deeper causing this reaction. Something she really didn’t want to think about but couldn’t help it.
“Nothing’s going on Ezekiel. You just seem really excited to go see Jil. You know, it wouldn’t hurt to show me some of that excitement when you’re coming back from a business trip.”
Ezekiel quickly assessed the situation and replied, “I’m sorry sweetheart. You know I’m just kidding. I’m just having fun with you! It’s infatuation. Jil’s my favorite singer. That’s it. Nothing more. Besides, I’m bringing you and the kids with me! Come on. If it was like that, you know I could’ve snuck off on a quote unquote business trip to see Jil by myself.” Ezekiel held up air quotes when he said business trip.
“Yeah, I guess”, Sheila solemnly replied.
She didn’t like that answer because she often wondered if Ezekiel didn’t sneak off on fake business trips anyways. She was relatively sure he didn’t though. Money was too tight for that. Besides, even if it was true and he somehow scraped up some hidden funds and gone on this trip by himself or with Chuck and Braeden his best idiot friends – she’d still know about it. Her husband was cute, but not that smooth. So, she was pretty sure he couldn’t come up with something so elaborate without her knowing. And he was in the family minivan, with his three kids, on his way to Las Vegas with his wife of fourteen years. So really, why was she feeling this way?
“Besides sweetheart, Jil’s just a celebrity crush, a fantasy, nothing more. Even if there was an opportunity, I may joke around, but honestly, I couldn’t and I wouldn’t chance messing up our family, even for her.
Even though Ezekiel had sincerity in his heart, the sound of that statement had him admitting to himself that it sounded too much like one of those lines he tried to use on freshmen girls back in college. He of course knew immediately after he uttered those words that Sheila was going to pick it up on her BS meter. It was funny how even the sincerest of statements at the wrong time could sound like biggest lines to everyone including the person trying to be sincere.
“Even if you had the opportunity huh?” Sheila sounded annoyed, but before she tried to crush Ezekiel over that foolishness of a line, she had a realization.
Sheila realized that she was emotional because even though Ezekiel had his family in tow, he still didn’t have to act as if seeing Jil was the end all to be all experience of his life. Yeah it was a celebrity crush, and normally, Sheila would’ve played along with him just because – well it served its purpose during those bland relationship moments when even fake jealously helped. But truth be told, deep down Sheila never really had an eye for any other man other than Ezekiel, not even for Michael Ely. Sure, it was a wonderful fantasy, and even though Michael was a beautiful man, she loved Ezekiel way too much to even seriously entertain the thought of being with another man. However, she never stopped wondering if that was the same case for Ezekiel. Oh she knew that Ezekiel loved her, without a doubt, but there were just too many times when he mentioned Jil, or some other “celebrity crush” a bit too much, especially after drinking, which made her question his true motives and judgement. Because while Zeke didn’t drink often, when he did, it almost always had a truth serum effect on him. And even though Sheila hated the fake jealousy and celebrity crush games most times, she always played along with it hoping that letting Ezekiel fantasize about something she wasn’t, would keep him from looking or actually wandering.
“Even if you had the opportunity?! Zeke, we talk about this all the time. You mean that you’re finally willing to give up the free pass?”
“Sweetheart, I’ll give it up if you want me too.”
Sheila knew that trick so well she didn’t even want to respond. ‘If you want me to’ was code for ‘No not really, and if you ask me, I’ll hold it over your head until you die’. So no, she wasn’t going to dignify that trick with a meaningful response.
“Sure, whatever you say Zeke. Whatever you say,” she said in the most sarcastic of tones. Sheila kept quiet and kept driving until she started seeing the Las Vegas city lights in the distance.
The Celebrity Free Pass (CFP) – was the agreement that Sheila and Ezekiel joked about with each other on a regular basis, mostly during foreplay. It was a play token, an “I’d understand babe – go for it” pass that they would give each other if either had the opportunity to ‘hook up’ with one of their celebrity crushes. One time they even went into details about what type of sex would be allowed and what types of safety measures would have to be in place.
While they both had only flirted with the idea of a CFP when a crush would pop up in a movie or a performance, Sheila and Zeke both begin to seriously joke about it after an online social media site asked the very question, “Who would you need a celebrity free pass for?” After long and ultimately too serious of conversations about something so silly, they both decided to stop bringing it up for a while because joking about that type of thing wasn’t appropriate anymore, especially during the Troubles, (the troubled years of their marriage). But after The Troubles, the topic of fantasizing about celebrity crushes popped back up, and for years since, Sheila would joke about Michael Ely and Morris Chesnut, and Ezekiel, would just joke about Jil. On occasion Zeke would mention some other latest, cute, young Hollywood brown skinned bombshell, but most of the time he’d fall back to Jil as his only celebrity crush. She was always Zeke’s go to girl, and Sheila always wondered why.
It wasn’t as if Jil was a super model. Sheila had always seen Jil as, “Cute – not as fine as me”. And besides – Jil was a big girl, thick in all the right places, but just a bit bigger than she thought Zeke would ever be attracted to. And Sheila, well she knew she was fine. Even after three kids, Sheila kept most of her weight off and her body “gym mom” tight and sexy, especially for being in her mid-thirties. And by keeping her body tight and having the ample breasts that only motherhood could mold but time hadn’t yet stole, Sheila knew she was a catch in her thirty somethings. That was at least until a few years ago when she decided to go back to school online to get her master’s degree in Nursing from the University of Tucson. That’s when she couldn’t help but to gain a few pounds from sitting in front of the computer for six hours a night. Zeke had never out right complained to her about the additional weight, but he made quite sure Sheila was aware of it by ‘squeezing’ all the wrong places.
‘That nigga‘, Sheila was pretty sure she thought to herself.
“Did you say something?” Ezekiel asked as if he was reading his wife’s mind. Sheila looked back in the rear view mirror trying to hide her surprise that she might have said that phrase out loud, as she drove toward the early evening lights of Las Vegas strip that were getting brighter off Interstate-15.
Hoping she didn’t, Sheila somehow quickly came up with a phrase that started out sounding like it and said, “I said – I wish uh… we were staying at one of the casinos instead of the Marriott.”
“Yeah me too. But my reward points are for Marriott, and I need to use them before the end of the year. Besides, it’s the Marriott Renaissance. I mean, it’s a four hundred dollar a night hotel in most major cities. It’s not like we’re staying at Motel Six”.
Breathing a sigh of relief that she either didn’t say the phrase out loud, or that she pulled another one over on Zeke, Sheila agreed, “True. It is supposed to be really nice.”
“Besides, it’s Vegas, and not all casino hotels are family friendly”
“For sure,” Sheila agreed again, then continued, “I’m glad Lauren said she would come over to stay in the kid’s room tonight”.
“Yeah me too. But it was the least she could do considering we helped her with a down payment on a car last year.”
“I know. But don’t bring that up ok? She’s my sister – and…”
“Half-sister,” Ezekiel interrupted.
“She my sister,” Sheila reiterated, “And she needs a car while attending UNLV”
“Not really,” Ezekiel intentionally argued.
“Uh yes, really she does Zeke. A broke college student can’t afford to live anywhere near campus or the strip and have a job without a car in Las Vegas.”
Ezekiel wanted to argue but figured it wasn’t worth the hassle, besides, he was spending a lot of money and reward points on this night, so he’d rather keep all possibilities of enjoyment open versus arguing over Lauren or some other family member, again, and ruining any chance of enjoying what was sure to be a passionate post-concert romp with Sheila. So yeah, he wasn’t going to argue tonight. Nice room in Vegas or not, words still mattered to a woman, and even spending all this money on this family trip couldn’t compensate for a heated argument.
And who in their right mind would ruin a night arguing over some family nonsense when he was about to see his favorite girl, (singer), serenade him, up close and personal? At least in his mind Jil was going to serenade Ezekiel personally. He’d made sure the seats where so close that she wouldn’t have a choice but to sing directly to him. Ezekiel paid enough for the tickets to ensure that. He paid so much that he didn’t even tell Sheila the real number. He couldn’t, because it wasn’t like eight hundred dollars came easily to them as a family, especially with them both still paying student loans – and all of the other things of life still pressing – like the new tires on the minivan that he should’ve bought before driving to Las Vegas.
But still, it was worth it. Ezekiel had to be on the front row this time. There was no way that he was going to be on row fifty million and two like he was when he went to the San Diego Jazz festival a few years ago to see Jil. Nope not this time. He wanted to hear her sing, see her sweat, and maybe even get called up on stage to do only those things he knew Jil needed.
Ezekiel had to catch himself from those dirty thoughts that were forming, and good thing he did, because Sheila was watching him intently in the rear-view mirror.
“What you thinking about Zeke?” She asked, already knowing what lustful and deviant thoughts his eyes were translating. She knew that look all too well in her husband. It was as reliable in timing as her very own monthly period, and just like her period, only showing up early because of some external stimulus that had nothing to do with her. And Sheila knew that during that time, when her husband didn’t get the sexual attention he needed, it would cause him to morph from her loving husband to – well any other horny dog of a man. She despised it when that happened – like now – when he was obviously thinking about Jil’s tits.
“Oh, I’m not thinking about much. Just the concert tonight.” Ezekiel responded.
“Thinking about Jil huh?”
“Uh – no! Not even. Just making sure I’ve got everything covered. You know, the hotel, tickets, dinner, transportation. Stuff like that.”
“Zeke, I’m not stupid. I know you were just sitting there thinking about Jil.”
Ezekiel again said he wasn’t, but Sheila knew better. She became frustrated even more at his obvious lie.
And why was he so turned on by this woman anyway? Was he even that turned on by his own wife like that anymore? Besides, it wasn’t like she didn’t try to keep him satisfied, she did. She even had a secret calendar on her phone to track his sexual desires, his needs, wants, do’s and how often he ask for those things that were an automatic “hell no” – but realized if she didn’t at least every couple of years, it probably would resurface as some bigger issue.
And it wasn’t like she didn’t desire her husband. She did. She craved him often – at least until he said something stupid, which was nearly as often. And even though they still were attracted to each other, there were times Sheila was uncomfortable being intimate with Zeke. She was uncomfortable because she wasn’t really sure if he was having sex with her, or just imagining Jil or some other woman. And on top of that, she especially didn’t like the way he looked at her when sex was all he wanted. Like he was looking right then – in the rear-view mirror. It was too carnal for her, too much like college, and too much without the love she expected and needed almost every time they were intimate. They were not freshmen anymore. They were not animals.
Sheila pulled off the interstate, swung a few blocks past the strip and into the valet parking at the Renaissance. As the valet attendants rushed to open the door Sheila spoke before they did, and said to Ezekiel, “I think you should cancel the free pass for tonight”.
“Say what?” Ezekiel sounded off guard.
“I said the free pass…” Sheila stopped speaking as their kids rustled awake in the van. “I said the celebrity free pass needs to be cancelled for tonight” She whispered loudly while turning around and staring Ezekiel in his eye.
“Where is this coming from?” Ezekiel asked, “I just told you I wouldn’t do that even if I had the opportunity.”
The valet tapped on the window and Sheila held up her finger indicated hold on a minute, disgusted, blowing her breath, and sitting back in the minivan seat, looking at him in the rear-view-mirror, “I know what you said Ezekiel, and I know it’ll be a cold day in hell that you even have a chance to say ‘boo’ to that woman. But call it woman’s intuition, call it a hunch, whatever you want to call it – but please, just for me, just for tonight, let’s agree that we won’t have any Celebrity Free Passes – OK?”
Sheila wanted to demand it. She wanted to demand it and then go into him for lying about daydreaming about Jil when he obviously was. She then wanted to rip him a new one with all types of warnings about his behavior before he even stepped one foot on Vegas soil, but she didn’t. She quickly changed gears and decided to take a different route and be sweet and polite, and pretend she was only asking that he give up his free pass – even though he really didn’t have a choice. Besides, she was looking forward to a grown-up night out in Las Vegas too, even if she had to sit through a concert with that woman. So instead of ruining the night before they even checked into the hotel by putting demands on her husband, she chose to be polite by asking him to cancel the free pass. It was much easier than a potentially heated argument. In addition, it also eluded to other limitations about his behavior that night that she ought not even have to speak about to a married man of fourteen years with three kids. So, with all the effort she could muster to put a lid on the irrational stew that was boiling, she somehow sounded sweet in her request yet made sure her eyes inferred the sincerity of her message.
As Ezekiel heard the sweet request, and saw the concern in his wife’s eyes, he knew he had to say the perfect words in that moment.
“Sweetheart, how’s about I cancel the free pass forever? I’ll never need it or even want to use it anyways.” Ezekiel smoothly said, surprised and proud that the perfect words found their way out of his mouth once again, while secretly hoping that his words were the truth.
Sheila smiled back at those perfect words too. Sometimes he could still woo her, and he somehow did it again – igniting something inside her and finally helping her calm down and begin looking forward to starting the night with her almost perfect and kind of cute (at the moment) husband. But at the same time, Sheila was secretly hoping that his words were the truth too.
Ezekiel looked at the kids in the car who were too busy on their phones and video games to care about any boring adult conversation, “Now let’s get checked in, find Aunt Lauren and hit the pool before the concert? OK?!”
That got the kid’s attention as the whole family jumped out the minivan.
“Oooh – it’s too cold out here to get in the pool!” Sheila complained as the brisk evening air whipped around the van. “I thought Las Vegas would be warmer than this in December,”
“It’s not too cold ma!” Quentin snapped back. “Besides, its Vegas, all the pools are heated!”
Sheila looked at her eleven-year-old son who happened to know a bit too much about Las Vegas for that age, then looked over at Zeke who just shrugged his shoulders – confused too.
“Hey dad! Ain’t that her!?” Jacobi pointed to a huge billboard down the street advertising Jil Scot’s concert at the T-Mobile Arena that night. “Ain’t that your ‘girlfriend‘ you and mom going to see tonight?!”
“Jacobi!” – Ezekiel quickly ran over to reprimand his son, who obviously was going to always be that one problem child. “Come here boy!”
Too scared to look over at Sheila’s reaction to their son’s obvious proof of being the class jokester and prankster his teachers were always complaining about, Ezekiel grabbed him by the arm, pulled him in close and proceeded with another daily stern warning, “Listen here you little – little boy! If you want to enjoy yourself at all this weekend, you better keep your smart mouth shut and be on your best behavior! You understand me?!” Ezekiel tried to be as firm and as loudly-quiet as he could while squeezing his son’s arm so hard that it actually did hurt Jacobi, for once. “Don’t make me act a fool out here in front of all these white folks.”
“That goes for the both of us,” Sheila calmly said while looking directly at Ezekiel, who had expected her to be looking at Jacobi, providing parental backup. But she wasn’t looking at Jacobi, she was clearly eyeing Ezekiel indicating that those same words were for him too.
The stare down lasted a bit too long for Ezekiel, so he caved first, looked back at Jacobi and let his arm go, “Now gone get your bag boy and go in the hotel”. Jacobi scampered off, snickering under his breath and rubbing his arm.
Sheila turned back and stared at the billboard again, and all its glitter, lights, and breasts that it displayed. Although Sheila never had any reason to doubt her husband’s fidelity, something was just off to her that night. Something wasn’t right, that or Zeke was hiding something from her. Maybe she was just being paranoid, she thought to herself. But her intuition was rarely wrong, and something about the night, the concert, the whole trip, just wouldn’t let her shake the feeling that some kind of foolishness was going to go down.
“Stop worrying” she said to herself. “Besides, I’m way cuter than Jil, finer too,” she mumbled as she turned to walk into the hotel.
Just as Sheila turned around and began walking in front of the parked family minivan, she heard a deep dark rumble of what had to be a very powerful car engine, echoing underneath the hotel veranda. And while normally such a behemoth of a sounding vehicle would give her pause, and because the oncoming car was hidden by the minivan, and possibly because she still had Zeke and Jil on her mind, without realizing what she was doing, Sheila stepped out into the second parking lane just as a brand new, souped-up, decked-out, candy apple red, Dodge Challenger Demon, drove in.
The car squealed to a halt just before its front bumper nearly hit Sheila on her right leg. In shock, at that moment, Sheila was the epitome of a deer in the headlights. She couldn’t move as she felt the heat of the monstrous growling engine warm her body. The valet’s ran over to check on her.
While physically she was OK, that moment, the Jil thing, and all the other emotions she was holding back the entire trip, came flooding through. She knew something was wrong about this night and this whole stupid trip. But she never imagine nearly getting killed by some idiot in an obnoxious and obvious overcompensation for his manhood – car. And then, with all of her emotions on tilt, and just as she was about to let the flood gates open, and take obscenity and road rage to a whole other level, a very familiar, and very sexy voice of sincere concern came from the person getting out of the driver’s side of the Challenger.
“Oh my god, are you OK? – You came out of nowhere. – I’m so sorry. – I didn’t hit you did I?”
Everything stopped. Literally – in Sheila’s mind, there was no motion, no movement of time for anything or anyone around her, except for her eyes, slowing lifting up from the front of the car’s hood and glancing over onto the most amazing, the most intoxicating, the most beautiful hazel blue eyes of anyone she’d ever seen in her life walking her way.
And while physically her body was all prepared to scream from the top of her lungs the rage of the century, it was only a weird, mouse-like sound that she could transform all of that pint up energy and emotion into, that came out as a barely audible, “Michael? – Michael Ely!?”