JJ Shakedown

I knew as soon as I stepped out of the Caddy and into the massive puddle of cars that something was changing.

The line for this place wound all the way around the side of the building and I was standing by his death trap, this blue monster, trademark red visor hanging on the rear view mirror. He wasn’t going to be wearing it because this was an entirely different side of what now is. For a moment, feeling uncomfortable standing amongst hoes with visible thongs and tank tops, I wished for the old way again. The black girl in front of me tugged down on her skirt as her friend adjusted her chest, which had doggie-print tattoos on each breast. I wanted to go back on the couch and be talking about how much there was or wasnn’t to life. But then I remembered why I was standing in line…I needed to support Cameron’s decision to get off his ass and do something – even if was to bounce at a nightclub.

No matter how weird everything had become overnight.

Realizing that the line wasn’t going anywhere, I changed my mind about entering the club. Not only wasn’t I in the mood, but Amanda had on a sweatshirt that would in no way pass the dress code. I walked around to the front where the green room had a window. Sure enough, he eventually appeared. I was far enough back that I could lean against the walkway’s railing and observe without being obvious. He was wearing a white shirt with rolled-up sleeves, like the others. The sky above my head was dark and the electric lights delivered a swift message to me that this vision of him at the window would have to do…

for a kind of goodbye.

Suddenly the doors opened. Freaks, gangsters, strippers, dancers, dealers, drinkers and all the rest began to pour in as my temperature dropped. Here were a few hundred people flying into his life and providing the kind of doors that I would not follow him through. It wasn’t just the team anymore – he was a member of a much bigger family than I could ever begin to find a solid grip on. Realizing that he was pretty busy and probably didn’t need to see any of us, especially being the girl he knows thinks special of him in particular, I gawked at the absolute everything that is him from across the way and took in that familiar shape one more time.

Then I slipped away, my long black coat blowing in the cruel air, back to my Cadillac that no longer sparkled and felt more like the Visiting Country Girl From Out Of Town and nothing more.

I drove to Cameron’s house for the first time with the knowledge that he would not be there. I wanted to see if Jake had been left home for the weekend. If so, I was going to pick his ass up and hang out. Their mother answered the door.

“What are you up to? Looking for the boys? Cameron called J before he took off, something about wanting him to bring the girls up to the club. I don’t know about this new job…”

I had just spent some time at J’s house, and never did he reveal that Cameron had invited him, Mandi or I to the club. By now it was no mystery, as I was already catching onto the fact that Justin was competing for attention. Now that I had asked him to be a part of my plans, J was jumping in the car, wanting to see if he could “see” Cameron at work. I showed him where he was standing, and J walked right up and knocked on the window.

Cameron looked out, and his face got excited. Walking away, the side door flung open and Cameron was holding it for us. A little unsure, we quietly but boldly stepped inside.

Before I could look around, Cameron was slapping bracelets on our wrists. Almost 21, he still gave me an underage bracelet while Justin got an adult color.

“Look!” and he shows us his bloody elbow. There are marks on his shirt. His first day, and he had stories to tell about the men he had already put in headlocks. Cameron was in his element.

I didn’t stay long because the Cameron & Autumn sitcom had made me nauseous – everyone was always watching, waiting to see if anything would happen, and I realized after it was too late that I wanted to go back to a plane without uncertainty. I was tired of the whispers and just wanted to be comfortable around my friend, again.

On the way out, J pointed “later” to the guys and Mandi fondled her pockets for a cigarette. When I grabbed the door I felt a hand reach down and gently squeeze my shoulder.

Cameron and I smiled at each other.