It didn’t matter what you asked or didn’t ask Lionel. Eight out of ten times, the response he gave you needed to be filtered. If you asked him where he was from, he’d tell you he was from his hometown of Moss Point, MS. - that’s if he trusted you. Keep in mind, I said he’s a liar and liars don’t trust other people - for obvious reasons. So, most of the times, he told you was from some city he wished he could travel to or had just read about in the latest vacation magazine. No one really knew how old he was or what he did for a living. What people did know was that his five foot eleven, athletic build was very charming and had a way with words. In some cases, he talked so quick and with wit you almost didn’t catch what he really said.
I first met Lionel one night following one of the town’s highly attended college football games. The tailgating had gone on for hours. Spirits were high. Fashions and their colorful owners were out to enjoy some of the festivities. As we stood in line in front of the one way in and out club, I noticed Lionel looking at me as he leaned against the E-class silver glassed window Benz. His well tailored gray pants and pin toe shoes, with his muscle v-neck tee matched perfectly. He had diamonds shining from his ears and a nice chain hanging around his neck. He winked at me and I smiled back. Not to seem too eager, I turned my head and kept on inside the club with Fiona.
Once we got passed security and the cashier, we headed straight for the ladies room. “Girl, did you see that dude squawking you down out there?” Fiona asked as she combed her hair for the fifth straight time since the club parking lot. I leaned on the wall next to the hand dryer waiting on her.
Laughing, I replied, “Yeah, I saw him, but you know how these club guys are. Full of it, ‘hun!”
Side-eyeing me, “You don’t know what you’re talking about, Paige.”
“Yeah, sure I don’t. Like you do. What ever happened to Phil and Gilner?”
“Whatever, Paige,” she replied, rolling her eyes. Phil and Gilner were the last two guys she met in a club. Phil turned out to be married with two mistresses. Gilner ended up setting her up and having his boys break in her house. I’m telling you, I will not deal with someone I met in the club. “You don’t know who God got for you. You ‘gone miss your blessing.” She was so sure of herself. She pointed her finger in my face with her lip gloss as she said those words, but I knew better. I just smiled and gestured her towards the door.
The after party was jumping. The purple, green, and blue lights were beaming from the walls and off peoples’ bodies, the tables, everywhere in the club. The music was banging. You could see and hear the frats and sororities chanting and stepping around the dance floor. I was feeling the mood and the vibe of the club. It felt good. I felt like my pink mini skirt and pumps were fly with my black belt and purse. I pulled Fiona to the dance floor so we could let loose. We laughed as we two-stepped and shook what our mommas gave us. When a slow song came on we decided to head to the bar for some drinks. When we made it to the bar, I found myself standing next to Lionel. He was leaning up against the bar with his leg crossed like a scene with Billy D Williams in it. I was a little tickled by his assurance, maybe confidence, but he sure was entertaining me. Surprisingly, he had two chairs waiting for us.
He looked at me and smiled as pulled my chair out for me. “My name is Lionel,” he yelled. He then pulled out Fiona’s chair. Chivalrous. Rare, I thought.
As he sat in his chair, I yelled back, “My name is Paige!” We shook hands and smiled again.
“Nice to meet you, Paige. Would you and your friend like something to drink?”
“That’s nice, but…” I began before being shoved in my side by Fiona.
“We’ll take two vodkas and cranberries, Lionel. Hi, I’m Fiona,” she interrupted. She leaned over me to shake his hand. She gave me a look like, ‘Girl please, you betta’ get these drinks’. She was a trip. I obliged and so the bartender took our orders.
“So, you come here often?” Lionel asked me.
“Nah. I’m not really into the club scene. I’ve been here once or twice with my girl here. She really likes these spots.”
“Yeah, my boys asked me to drive ‘em over here. You know how some friends can be? Always need ‘ya,” he laughed as he blew on a ring that was supposed to be pricey I guess - bling they call it.
“Uh, yeah,” I answered slightly confused about the joke.
“You from around here? You don’t seem like the chicks I usually see around here.”
“Been living here all my life, Lionel.”
“Oh ok. Well, you did say you don’t get out much. So, you want to dance or something?”
“I’m a little tapped out right now, Lionel. I think Fiona wore me out, out there.” Besides his conversation becoming less entertaining than his persona by the minute, my feet were really feeling it from hitting that dance floor.
“That’s cool too. So, how about we catch up later after the club? Maybe we can meet up for breakfast,” he said leaning over in my ear ensuring I heard what he was asking.
“Uh, we’ll see, Lionel.”
“I mean ain’t no need to be worried, Paige. I got you. You saw me outside leaning on my car. I got too much to lose to be out here on some funny stuff. You get what I’m saying?”
“I hear ‘ya Lionel. I tell you what. I’m going to head to the ladies room with Fiona and I’ll catch up with you later, ok?” I responded quickly getting out of my seat and tugging Fiona to follow me to the ladies room. I considered that a close call to hell and needed to get up asap. I knew I shouldn’t have gotten those drinks.
We made it to the restroom safely with no hassles from Lionel. At least he wasn’t a pushy guy. When we came out he was nowhere to be found. We made a break for the dance floor for the rest of the night. I put my feet through hell, but the mood was still smooth for me. Between the dancing and the vodka and cranberry I had earlier, we were on the floor until about thirty minutes before the club closed. We decided we’d had enough for the night and was headed towards the car when we found Lionel standing next to the red Corvette my dad bought for my birthday. I stopped in my tracks a bit perturbed by his appearance, even more by him standing next to my car.
“Glad I didn’t miss you!” he yelled out as we started back walking towards the car. He had a big grin on his face as if I’d be happy to see him.
“What are you doing over here, Lionel?”
“Well I guess I ran into some bad luck. I lost my car keys in the club and found out that my car has been stolen. And can you believe my boys gone?” he said as if any of that sounded believable.
“You mean they just left you here without a ride,” Fiona asked like she believed him.
I shook my head. “So, what do you want?” I asked.
“Well, I’m staying at my aunts while I’m here in town and just need a lift over there. Can you help me out?”
“Why me? Where are your boys? Why not call them?” I answered rolling my eyes. I was disgusted at his poor attempt to convince me that any of it would be true.
“Like I said, Paige. They left me. It’s only about fifteen minutes from here. I promise,” he replied blowing on his fake ring again.
“I thought you said you were from around here?” I asked, trying to pull his lying card.
“I didn’t say that. I said I hadn’t seen you around here before. I visit my aunt quite a bit.”“Stop interrogating the man and just give him a ride, Paige. You tripping,” Fiona voluntarily interjected again. I wished she’d just shut up.
“Thanks, Fiona,” he said nodding his hand in appreciation for her support.
“Look,” I said rolling my eyes. “If you get in this car, I don’t want any mess. I mean it.” I couldn’t believe I was about to let a stranger in my car with my friend at two o’clock in the morning. How “America’s Most Wanted” was that?We all got in the car and started towards his aunt’s house. The entire time he talked about his condo in L.A., the celebrity friends he supposedly had, and his Porsche that he was getting re-painted. The night that had been super live turned out to be a super joke. When we finally made it to his “aunt’s” house, I found myself in a cove of run down houses across the street from a stream of what look like halfway houses. The cars outside the house we stopped at were mounted on three legs with concrete blocks for their wheels. The gray wired gates were unbound in spots and the driveways were cracked up with rocks for the kids to throw during the day. There were stray dogs and cats out rummaging through the garbage cans. I couldn’t believe this is where I was dropping Lionel off. He was at the club perpetrating and falsifying the truth, trying to get me caught up. This was the exact reason I never talked to anyone in the club. You never know what you’re going to get. Maybe it’s just my luck, but I think my rule is about as truthful as its going to get for me. I dropped Lying Lionel off at his “aunt’s” house and I hope I never see him winking at me again.