Chapter II: Still A Player
Friday Evening, April 17th, 5:04 p.m.
Darren had just finished a long work day and work week and was happy when 5pm rolled around. He quickly walked to his black Cadillac Escalade and hopped into the driver’s seat. He stuck the key into the ignition, being greeted by the smooth sounds of R. Kelly, who was his favorite R&B singer, not only because he was a musical genius but because he was a Chi-town homeboy. He opened his glove compartment and opened a package of Black & Mild and slid one of out of the box. He lit it and put it between his lips. He put the Escalade into drive and sailed toward his apartment on the Westside of Chicago. Ever since his best friend Mario decided to move with his girlfriend into her apartment, Darren had been living alone but he could still afford the rent payments. He had transformed Mario’s old bedroom into a study, placing a desktop computer, printer, and an entire video game system in. His couch had started wearing down due to he and his friends playing video games in the living room so when Mario left, he decided to put all his games in the room so they could sit in chairs instead of wearing out his living room furniture.
As he drove down Interstate 90, his cell phone rang. He had charged it in the truck’s charger and was wearing an earpiece just in case someone called, as they always did. He glanced at the screen and saw his brother Dean’s name flash across it. He pressed the Answer button.
“What up bro?” Darren asked, smiling to himself.
“You got it bro,” Dean replied. “I wanted to tell you that Bianca’s sister Erica has arrived from France. I want you to come and meet her tomorrow night. We’re having her over for dinner.”
“Damn man, I forgot about that,” Darren said, slightly annoyed. He had heard about Bianca’s younger sister and wasn’t really all that interested in meeting her. In all the years he’d known Bianca, she was a sweet, caring, kind and beautiful lady. He saw her as more than a sister-in-law, but as a real sister. He wasn’t sure about her baby sister though; she had been a model and traveled all over the world and had been on numerous magazines. He thought she’d be the conceited type: thinking all men should fall at her feet and worship her because she was pretty. Darren couldn’t stand those types of women. There were a number of them in the Chicago area and they weren’t even models. He liked down to earth, ride-or-die chicks, as he liked to call them. “I was gonna hang out with my boys tomorrow night.”
“Come on man, please? I never ask much of you; can you do me this one solid, just for tomorrow night? I promise, if you’re uncomfortable and you’re not feeling the atmosphere, you can bounce. Aight?” Darren heard the pleading in his big brother’s voice and knew he couldn’t let him down. Dean had been there for him like no one else had.
When Darren dropped out of high school during his junior year, it was Dean, along with their mother, who had pleaded for him to return to school, although he didn’t listen at the time. He wanted to be a D-boy (dope boy) like his friends in Cabrini Green, where he and Dean once lived. At this time, age 17, he was a rebel. He wanted desperately to fit in and he saw Dean, age 26, as a nerd. Dean had graduated from Bowie State four years before and had a degree in Architecture. He had married Bianca a year after graduating and they were living near South Shore in a high-rise apartment. Dean had even moved their mother out of Cabrini Green before the projects were demolished. She now lived near Darren in West Garfield Park in a small garden apartment. Darren admired his brother but he was lured by the fast money and faster women. He had women by the ton and he wore the flyest gear and his shoe game was on point. Not to mention that he was extremely handsome: he stood 6’2”, weighed 215 pounds, lean muscle, dark chocolate skin tone, blinding white smile and large round brown eyes. Darren’s looks resembled their father’s, who had abandoned the family when Dean was 12 and Darren was 3. Their mother, Diane Sharp, was a clever and determined woman and she raised her two sons as best she could. Dean followed her lead but Darren didn’t, not at the time. He stayed on his post as a D-boy for about three years until he got busted by an undercover cop. He had about 9 grams of marijuana on his person and he had to spend a year in the Cook County Jail. At this time, he had a steady girlfriend named Nicole who was from a middle-class family from New Jersey. The family had moved to Chicago when Nicole was ten to start a new life. Nicole lived in an affluent section of Chicago but she had family members who lived in Cabrini Green. Nicole attended private school but she hated it. She felt that she didn’t fit in with the white and Asian kids at her school. One Saturday afternoon, Darren and his friends Mario and Tyree were walking around Cabrini Green when they spotted Nicole and two other girls sitting in the parking lot on a car. Darren and the guys had noticed the girls out of the crowd and Mario had let the guys know that he was trying to get with one of the girls named Nikita. Darren and Tyree, also known as TyTy, zoomed in on Nicole and Nikita’s friend Stacey. All three girls were very pretty: Nikita was a light caramel color with a short hair-do; Stacey was a medium brown tone with smooth skin and wore braids that hung to her waist and deep dimples. Nicole was the one that Darren noticed: she was nearly his complexion but slightly lighter, tall, long curvy legs, a curly afro with a simple flower clip tucked into it. She was wearing a purple tank top with denim Daisy Dukes but they weren’t booty-cutter short. She was posted up on the hood of the car when the guys walked by.
“What up Kita?” Mario asked Nikita.
“Not much; what up with you Mario?” Nikita smiled.
“What y’all doing?” Mario asked.
“We chillin’,” Nikita smirked.
“Y’all wanna chill with us?” TyTy asked, looking at Stacey. Stacey blushed and turned away.
“Yeah, we can do that,” Nikita said, looking at her girls. Darren watched Nicole intensely, munching on a toothpick that dangled from his lips. Nicole felt naked the way Darren stared at her and she quickly looked down at the ground. The six of them ended up at Mario’s mother’s home, since she worked third shift. Mario and Nikita disappeared into his bedroom, while the others chilled in the living room. Darren thought of a way to get Nicole alone so he asked, “Hey, you wanna take a walk with me?”
“I dunno, it’s kinda dangerous around here,” Nicole said, remembering Cabrini Green’s reputation, especially at night.
“We can roll around in my car,” Darren said.
“I don’t know you; you may try to kidnap me or something,” Nicole joked.
“Hmm...you never know,” Darren winked. Nicole giggled. Darren addressed TyTy as he and Nicole walked toward the front door. “Hey my nigga, we gon’ go cruise around a bit and give y’all some space. If Mario ever comes out of that room, let him know.”
“Nigga, he in there with Kita; he ain’t coming out no time soon,” TyTy laughed, smiling at Stacey.
“Tell Kita I’m going with Darren,” Nicole told Stacey.
“I will,” Stacey said, cozying herself up next to TyTy while he channel surfed.
Darren and Nicole, or Nicki as he called her, continued their relationship for another four years and even when Darren was incarcerated, it was Nicki who put money on his books. She was working part-time as a medical office scheduler while attending a local college. She decided to forego going to a four-year college to her parents’ dismay. They knew that Darren was the reason for Nicole turning down such offers to schools like Cornell, NYU and even the University of Illinois. Darren appreciated Nicki’s faith and dedication to him and when he was released, he moved in with her. After being caught with weed on him, his mother informed him that he could no longer live with her until he straightened up his act. He and Nicki had a good relationship but being that Darren was 21, young and dumb, he still had an urge to pursue other women. He still kicked it with his boys Mario and TyTy who had also served a bit of time behind bars. Unlike Nicki, Nikita and Stacey had ended their relationships with their men after they were sent to jail. Mario had a new girlfriend named Melissa and TyTy was still playing the field. Darren still hung on the Southside of Chicago although he gave up his D-Boy ways. He wanted his mother and brother to be proud of him, so he went back to school and earned a GED. He was attending a trade school when he met Aleesha, the girl who would change his relationship with Nicki. Aleesha was attractive, but not as attractive as Nicki. She was a shade lighter than Nicki and had a better body but she wasn’t as smart or attentive. Darren was thinking with his smaller head when he hooked up with Aleesha. He would use the excuse of hanging with his boys in order to hook up with her. Darren didn’t want Aleesha as a permanent girlfriend; she was just a side piece. Things came to a head one afternoon when Darren went over to Aleesha’s after school. After they’d had sex, Darren went into the bathroom to shower and left his phone in the dining room. He wasn’t expecting a call and he didn’t expect Aleesha to answer his phone. He had made it clear that he had a girlfriend but Aleesha wanted more.
The phone rang and Aleesha picked it up.
“Hello? Who is this?” Nicki was stunned to hear a woman’s voice and she knew it wasn’t his mother or a female relative.
“Who is THIS?”
“Excuse me, but you don’t need to be asking me who I am! This is my man’s phone bitch! Why the fuck you answering his phone?”
“Because his phone is in my house BITCH!”
“You fucking my man?”
“Why don’t you ask him?” *Click*
Nicki was fuming. She was at work on break in her car but she didn’t want to go back inside. Her co-workers would know she was upset. She decided to call her team leader Amy and ask her to turn her computer off and log her out for the day; she had an emergency at home. After confirming with Amy that it was okay to leave, Nicki sped down Interstate 290 toward home. When she got to her apartment, she stormed around, pacing and breathing heavily. She took a deep breath and sat down, contemplating her next move. When she got her thoughts together, she calmly walked into the bedroom and began packing Darren’s things in a box. When she was done, she went into the kitchen and poured herself a glass of Alize. She had two glasses before Darren strolled in, looking guilty. He looked down and saw his things in a box next to the door.
“You not gon let me explain?” he asked.
“Explain what Darren? How you’ve been fucking bitches behind my back? How many are there? How many have there been? You’ve been exposing me to shit all this time? How could you do that? I was there for you! I was down for you!” Nicki’s words hit him like tiny rocks. She was right. She HAD been down for him when no one else was. She had gone against her parents’ wishes and moved him into her home. Tears streamed down her beautiful face and Darren’s heart broke into a million pieces. He knew he had fucked up and there was no turning back.
“Just go Darren. I don’t want to hear it. Go live with your new girlfriend. I’m sure she’ll be happy to have you. I’m over it.”
Darren snapped out of his thoughts as he pulled up to his apartment building and let out a loud sigh. He was happy to finally be home. He had planned to hook up with TyTy and another friend, Deuce, who was single and never considered getting hitched to a woman. He went up to his apartment and unlocked the door, dropping his keys and phone on the table and heading toward the shower. Before he could get there, his phone rang. He doubled back and went to answer it. It was Deuce.
“What up D?”
“What up Deuce?”
“You ready for tonight man? We gon find us some bad bitches tonight bro.”
“Man, what I tell you about calling women bitches? That’s why you ain’t got no woman now,” Darren laughed.
“Whatever playa,” Deuce laughed. “Anyway, what time we heading out?”
“Eleven is what Ty said,” Darren answered, removing his size 13 shoes from his feet.
“Aight, eleven it is,” Deuce said. They bid each other goodbye and Darren headed toward the shower once again, showering away the entire work week.
Friday Night, 11:14 p.m.
Darren scooped up his homies and they headed out to The Shrine, which was one of the hottest hip-hop clubs in Chicago. When they pulled into the parking lot, they saw that the line was nearly a block long. It was no problem to the guys though; a childhood friend of theirs worked at the club so they never had to stand in line and wait. They hopped out of Darren’s ride, looking fly as ever and walked toward the front of the line. Some of the people waiting in line gave them quizzical looks but they paid them no mind. When they got to the front, their friend Chico gave them dap and let them go in. They picked up their VIP passes inside and headed to that area. They sat down and took in the ambience of the place. The ladies were dressed in their sexiest gear while the fellas were decked out in their freshest kicks and attire. The guys ordered drinks from the attractive barmaid Shelley and just chilled.
“So listen y’all, my brother’s sister-in-law is in town and he wants me to meet her,” Darren said, watching the women shaking their asses.
“What she look like? Hook a nigga up!” TyTy said. They all laughed.
“Damn nigga, you don’t even know what she look like,” Deuce said.
“I don’t care what she looks like to be honest,” Darren said.
“Why?” Deuce asked.
“Because…she’s some former top model chick who used to live in Paris or Rome or some fucking where,” Darren said. The guys laughed as Shelley brought their drinks. Deuce and TyTy looked at her full breasts almost spilling out of her uniform. Darren didn’t pay much attention; he liked breasts but he was an ass man.
“So you think she’s uppity?” TyTy asked, gulping his drink.
“Probably,” Darren said, taking a sip of his drink.
“But Bianca’s cool though,” Deuce said.
“Bianca ain’t been all over the world posing for pictures and walking runways. I love Bianca but I hope her sister’s not a bitch; I can’t be faking like I like her and shit,” Darren said thoughtfully.
“I guess you’ll find out tomorrow night then,” TyTy said.
“Yeah, guess so. But tonight, I’m looking for a hottie with major body to satisfy my body,” Darren said and gulped down the rest of his drink. They all laughed and headed for the dance floor to look for possible one-night stands.