I moved along the north side curb of VD Drive heading west towards the river. Unfamiliar with the exact geography of South Columbus, my only plan was to reach the river. If I hadn’t found what I was looking for by the time I reached the river, I would turn around and search for a cab ride home to Ft. Benning. Crossing over the river into Alabama seemed too risky considering I had to report for duty in the morning.
Cars sped by me from behind, one after the other, as I felt the heat from the asphalt road rising to kiss my skin. My vision swept back and forth like a pendulum, from the south side of the street to the north side of the street, searching for an answer. I moved past strip club after strip club knowing their inflated price for drinks would leave me broke within an hour. I decided to stop at a gas station to seek cheap alcohol for my journey. I had noticed the sign advertising the prices for gas a block ahead in the distance.
Surprisingly, the gas station was a continuously moving ball of energy. Set down in a man made valley, i watched as cars pulled in and out, music blaring from their open windows. As i walked down the hill to the parking lot, i noticed passengers congregated in a group near the business building. A dozen or so mid twenty-something black men, all dressed to impress, were apparently meeting here before their night time plans. Standing directly in front of the entrance, I had no choice but to part their group as I entered. Politely, I excused myself as I passed through their discussion. Without incident they simply moved aside for me.
I noticed the advertisement immediately behind the sales counter. A sale on E & J brandy. Affectionately nicknamed “Erk and Jerk” or “Easy Jesus” by the older black soldiers I served with in Germany, I knew that the $4.00 price tag on the half gallon bottle would be enough alcohol for my night. As I stood in line I couldn’t help but notice all the patrons in the gas station were black. I stood three people back in the line watching the constant flow of people entering inside. The old gray haired man who was first in line was talking about church with the cash register attendee causing a traffic jam near the exit. Ironically, no one was rushing anyone nor loosing their patience. It seemed they all knew each other from this neighborhood. That’s when she walked in.
She had extremely short hair that could have been mistaken for a soldiers hair cut. Her beauty was so overwhelming that it seemed hair would only serve as an annoyance to her. Her clothes were almost raggedy in appearance yet she wore them in the most sensual way I’ve ever seen clothes worn. She had on faded black shorts that hugged the curve of her hips like a baby holding its mother. The exposed skin on her legs looked moist from lotion and were longer than any I had ever remembered seeing. She wore old flip flops that exposed her bright red toe polish. As the men in the gas station all stopped to look at her, I too became hypnotized by her.
We all watched her move to the back of the store. As she picked a can of orange soda from the refrigerated cooler, I noticed that her body could have been sculpted by a Creative Intelligence. Her legs bowed out at the knees causing her body to have the perfect hour glass figure. There seemed to be a two inch gap of space, between her legs, where her legs met her genitalia. Her thighs never touched each other as she walked through the store. As she turned to look at a potato chip display I noticed the fullness of her breasts silhouetted by the faded Miller Lite t-shirt she hid them with. As she bent over to grab her snack, she exposed the extreme contrast of her round ass compared to her thin frame. She was an extremely beautiful creature. As she approached the service counter behind me I noticed her thick full lips and big dark eyes. The only African feature her face showed was a slightly wider than European nose. She could have been any race of human being mixed with another, apparently, due to the lightness of her skin tone. I heard a man whisper “red bone” to his friends as she took her place directly behind me.
The artery of traffic began to flow once the old man clogging it left the store. Once I ordered my alcohol, however, time seemed to stop. A younger black man spoke as if he couldn’t restrain his thoughts, “Did that white boy just order Erk and Jerk?” An eruption of laughter spread through the gas station so loudly that the hair on my legs began to vibrate. It was so unanimous that the cash register lady had to apologize once she composed herself. Even the beauty behind me was laughing. The exotic trance i was stuck in quickly evaporated into a humiliating, self aware mist of steam. I removed the money from my beer pocket and quickly exited through the door. I needed to twist off the cap and warm my stomach as soon as possible.
I climbed up the hill back to street level with a hurried pace. Once there, I imagined, I would crack the bottle open and pour the liquid down my throat. Before reaching the summit, I heard her soft southern drawl from behind me, “Excuse me? Can I have some of your drink? I have a cup and don’t have to work tonight”. I turned to see the light skinned beauty climbing the hill alone behind me.
I replied in a matter of fact way, “Sure, once I get the top off.”