It was 11:25am and I was getting myself ready to meet with Nikki. Jermaine and Tito were hanging around me. Pestering me. They both wanted to know why I was getting dressed up.
“C’mon Mike! Who is it?” Jermaine asked.
“Yeah bro, what’s the occasion?” Tito questioned as he playfully nudged my arm.
“Someone,” I replied.
“Oh yeah, like we couldn’t figure that out! It’s a special someone ain’t it?” Tito asked. I tried to ignore them as I pulled on my blazer.
“C’mon Mike! We’re your brothers! You can tell us!” Jermaine said. Tito was on my left and Jermaine was on my right. They were both closing the space between us. I laughed and then shoved them aside and walked out. They followed me.
“Mike!” Jermaine called out to me.
“Guys! It’s nobody! It’s just someone I met,” I told them.
“Who? Is she pretty?”
“How’d you know it was a girl?” I asked.
“Because you wouldn’t get dressed up like that for a dude! C’mon! You’re trying to look especially sharp for a girl!” Jermaine replied.
“Just tell us!” Tito demanded. At that moment Jackie and Marlon walked in. Here we go...
“What’s all the commotion?” Jackie asked.
“Mike’s got a girlfriend and he won’t tell us who it is!” Jermaine told him. Jackie and Marlon both looked at Michael with the same shocked expression.
“Little Mike’s got a girlfriend has he?” Marlon teased.
“C’mon guys! Leave me alone,” I said as I tried to shove by them.
“Mike! We’re your brothers right? We share everything! Just tell us! What do you think we’re going to do?” Jackie asked. Michael sighed.
“Look, I’m just meeting up with my friend Nick,” I told them. Her having a name that was more commonly used as a guy’s name came in handy. They all frowned.
“What? Nick? Who’s that?” Tito asked.
“A friend. He’s working with me on the album,”
“That’s a lie,” Jermaine said.
“Why do you think I’m lying!?”
“Why would you get so dressed up for this Nick guy?” Marlon asked.
“What? I can’t look nice?” I asked. They all remained silent. I checked my watch and it was 11:35.
“Look, can I go now? I’m going to be late,” I told them. They all rolled their eyes and moved to the side.
“Go ahead. But we’ll find out who this Nick guy is!” Jackie told me. I chuckled as I walked out of the house and got into my car. I drove down to the cafe where I said that I’d meet Nikki. I got there five minutes early, but it didn’t matter because so did Nikki. I smiled when I saw her. She walked up to me.
“Hey,” I greeted. She smiled.
“Hi Michael,” she said. I opened the door to the cafe.
“Want to grab a coffee?” I asked her. She smiled and then nodded as she walked into the small cafe. I got some looks from a bunch of people, but nobody bothered me. They didn’t think that it was really me. People found it so hard to believe that, yes, I have a life too and I like coffee! Like God...
She ordered a pumpkin spice late and a blueberry muffin. I got a hot chocolate and a chocolate chip cookie. We both sat down at an empty booth at the back of the cafe.
“You’re very pretty you know that right?” I said smoothly. She blushed.
“Thank you. You’re handsome yourself,” she told me. I think she felt a little uncomfortable since we had only just met. I took a sip of my drink.
“So what do you do?” I asked her. The question seemed to for one reason or another catch her off guard.
“Um... you know... I’m a uh... waitress,” she replied.
“That’s cool. How do you like it?” I asked her. She shrugged.
“It’s okay,” she replied.
“You don’t like it?” I asked her.
“What do you do?” she asked dodging my question. I was a little surprised when she asked me that.
“I’m a famous recording artist. I’m Michael Jackson,” I told her. She nodded as she examined me.
“Oh! That’s cool! I’m sorry, I didn’t recognize you. I don’t listen to music,” she told me.
“You don’t? Not at all?” I asked her. She shook her head.
“Not at all,” she repeated. There was another silence as we each took a bite of our treat and a sip of our beverages.
God! Think Michael, think! You’re probably boring her! Ugh! I need to start up a conversation! C’mon... c’mon...
“I know I told you this earlier, but you’re so beautiful,” I told her again. Her face turned a bright red. She looked down at her coffee cup.
“Aw, you don’t mean it,” she said. I reached to grab her hand, but she moved it away, so I pretended to dust something off of the table.
“Of course I mean it! You’re amazing Nikki! Why don’t you think so?” I asked her. She shrugged.
“Well, I don’t think of myself as pretty,” she told me, “I used to...”
“What do you mean you used to?” I asked her. Her eyes widened.
“I don’t know,”
“Why are you dodging my questions? Is everything okay?” I asked her. She started breathing faster.
“Yeah, it’s fine. It’s fine,” she assured me.
“Are you sure? You can tell me,” I told her.
“I’m fine,” she told me again. I noticed that her eyes started to fill with water and a small tear rolled down the side of her cheek. She quickly whipped it away, hoping that I didn’t see. But I did.
I felt bad for her. I don’t know what she has been through, but it seemed serious.
“You know, talking about it might make you feel better,” I told her. She looked at me with wide, puppy dog eyes. Then she looked around nervously and then faced me again. Was she paranoid?
“Come with me,” she said as she quickly got up and headed out of the cafe. I hurried up and followed her out.
She led me to a beautiful park. There was a pond and lovely forest trails. She took me down one of them. She looked around to make sure that nobody was around.
“Is everything alright?” I asked her concerned.
“Yeah, it’s just a sensitive topic,” she told me.
“Well, I’m here to listen. You listened to me last night, I’m going to listen to you,” I told her. She smiled and then let out a big sigh.
“I’m just kind of sad because I just feel so alone in this world,” she stared.
“You’re lonely? How? How’s a beautiful girl like you lonely?” I asked.
“Well, there’s just recently been a family tragedy,” she told me. I was curious to what had happened, but I didn’t ask. I didn’t want to feel nosy.
“Oh I’m so sorry!” I said. She shrugged.
“It is what it is. Anyway, after the tragedy we’ve all just... grown apart. It feels like I’m just so distant from them now,” she told me. I was about to wrap my arm around her, but she moved away. Okay, what was her problem? Why didn’t she want me to touch her? She looked at me and could tell that I was confused as to why she wouldn’t let me hold her, but she didn’t mention anything.
“Well hey, if you ever need someone I’m here,” I told her. She smiled.
“Thanks Michael,” she thanked me. I shrugged.
“We should hang out again. I really enjoyed hanging out with you today,” she told me. I smiled. I was a little surprised; I didn’t think she was enjoying herself.
“We should,” I agreed.
“If you ever want to hang out, here’s my phone number,” she said as she held out a slip of paper. I was going to try and touch her hand when I took the paper, but she was quick and wouldn’t let me. I guess it didn’t really matter anyway. I smiled as I put the slip of paper in my pocket. She smiled back at me.
“Thanks,” I said. She giggled.
“Don’t mention it. I’m just glad that I’ll be able to see you again!” she told me. I blushed. She giggled.
“Red looks good on you,” she joked. I laughed and so did she. She was nice. She really was. I enjoyed being around her and I’d love to get to know her better. What I really want to know is what the tragedy was and why she won’t touch me.
“I should go,” she said.
“Alright, I’ll catch you later than?” I asked her. She smiled and then nodded.
“Definitely,” she said as she turned and walked towards the exit. I stood there as I waited for her to disappear. Man, she was something. She was nice, funny, beautiful and well... mysterious.
But I liked that.