Chapter 4 The “Suite” Life
The large suite, where Manny would call home for the next three months, came equipped with a small kitchen, a living room, a study and two full bathrooms. The study had a built-in library, already filled with everything from classic literature to mainstream to comic books. Sitting smack dab in the middle of the study was a cream colored over-sized recliner. Two multicolored floral printed pillows sat in each one of its arms and a dark purple chenille throw was tossed loosely over its back. The recliner faced a stone fireplace with an empty marble mantle. The two large windows sat at each side of it and offered a breathtaking view of a lake. Ferry’s and small fishing boats were attached to the dock. From this angle the backyards of some of Westerlynne’s homes could be seen. Manny stared out of one of the windows in awe. Everything was still except for the peaceful waves which moved in perfect synchronization. Westerlynne Ridge was one of the ridges in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains. The slopes were covered in a variety of trees with a leaf for every color of every season. If it had not been for those tiny waves on the lake, Manny could have easily mistaken this view for a painting. It was pure art.
Manny hadn’t a clue where to start. His only orders were to make himself comfortable. He strolled into the kitchen and opened the refrigerator.
Just like I thought, Orange Juice, Manny thought when he saw the pitcher of fresh squeezed OJ.
In addition to the OJ, the fridge was stocked with fresh fruit and veggies, greek yogurts and bottled water. The cupboard with mostly fancy snacks and fine crackers. There was also almond butter and various jarred fruit preserves. He was staring to regret not touching the plate of food he was too excited to eat this morning, Manny’s stomach was now touching his back. He grabbed a handful of the small orange crackers that sat in a clear dish on the table. He shoved them all into his mouth and then fiercely spit them back out into the sink.
What the hell was that, he wondered.
He snatched a cold bottled water from the fridge and quickly gulped it down to wash away the bitter fish taste that fought to linger on his tongue. He opened the cabinet door and pulled down a package of Oreos, something he recognized. Then he poured himself a glass of milk. All the dishes were crystal, so even regular cookies and milk, looked like some shit from an upscale magazine.
After scarfing down six cookies, Manny went to put his things away. He opened the double doors that separated the living room from his bedroom and Jacuzzi bathroom.
Now, this is what the fuck I’m talking about!
Manny fell face forward, arms out wide, into the king-sized bed covered in luxurious satin bedding. Like a new best friend, the mattress adjusted to his slim athletic frame and hugged him in all the right places. Manny experienced a comfort he never knew he wanted but now never wanted to live without it. He smiled when he realized this is where he’d be sleeping for the next three months. He picked up the remote from off the night stand and turned on the 42-in. flat screen television mounted on the wall directly in front of him. A display popped up presenting him with a variety of apps including Netflix, Hulu, You Tube, and even Facebook. He pressed on the Facebook app and logged into his account using the qwerty keyboard on the remote. He didn’t have a lot of friends in real life, but on social media he had thousands. He posted a status: “When dreams come true. #Westerlynne.” Manny stared at his new status for a few seconds, and wondered should he delete it.
Does it sound too soft? Is it a bitch ass comment?
Then he thought of his friends list and realized that they were all below him now. How could any of them judge him? While he was on the roll, he laid back on the plush pillow and snapped a selfie with his cell. He posted it to his Instagram account with the caption “King bed for King Manny #Westerlynne.” In the Instagram app, Manny pressed on the Westerlynne hashtag he’d made and to his surprise a load of pictures popped up. Manny had figured people in Westerlynne would be too busy traveling, networking, and investing to be bothered with social media. He tapped on a picture of a man who went by the username “hoodgenius614.” In the picture the heavy set 40-something aged man, in full New York Yankees attire, was kneeling down next to black t-top Monte Carlo SS, raised up on twenty-eight inch rims. The caption read: “I’m out here straight flexin’ on these niggas like #Westerlynne”
I’m sure you’re not, Manny thought.
Another picture was posted by someone going by the name “24K.” The image was of a chocolate young lady standing next to an even darker skinned young man. Both of them had shiny black hair wavy enough to make a person sea sick. They were posing for this year’s prom in front of, what appeared to be, their big ass mansion. They stood up against a dark red Rolls Royce. The pretty lady, in a a short sequined gold dress, leaned into the chest of the man who wore a typical black tuxedo and white dress shirt, however, his vest displayed a tribal print. That whole African prom theme was popular this year. It was pretty dope, Manny thought, when done right. He had decided against the embarrassment of attending his senior prom. He knew that his aunt would have bent over backwards trying to rent a tux and that it would have set them back financially, which he wasn’t sure how much further back they could possibly go, yet he wasn’t trying to figure out. So, he convinced her that he did not want to go. Honestly, in the right setting, such as Westerlynne, Manny would have loved to attend prom.
Now that’s flexn’, he thought, while he stared at the bossy young couple. They both seemed to be around Manny’s age, however the boy wore a very mature demeanor. Maybe, it was the power stance he stood in: his back straight, chest out and head cocked but whatever it was, his cold attitude could be felt through the photo. The young lady seemed to be more carefree, ready to kick it. She was glowing, serving up sultry eyes and pretty pink grin.
The caption under the picture read, “We are definitely about to turn up and turn out #Westerlynne” followed by a ton of party emoji’s including the dancing lady in the red dress and heels.
Manny surprised himself when he heard his own voice exclaim,“ Damn, she’s fine!” So awfully engrossed with getting into Westerlynne, Manny had abandoned his teenage love life. Well, not entirely. He did make time to lose his virginity to the cute talking Latina girl who lived next door. Kesari Vasquez had always smiled at Manny and made small talk with him any time that they had ran into each other by the trashcan, at the mailbox or in the driveway before school. The Vasquez family had lived next door to the Wright family for as long as Manny could remember and still, Manny and Kesari were not good friends. They had no deep love connection with basketball or anything like that. Losing their virginity to one another was not a planned event, it kind of just happened. Well, on Manny’s part at least. It was on an early Saturday morning, year before last, right after Manny’s seventeenth birthday. The previous evening, Kesari’s parents had come over and informed Aunt El that they were moving to Florida. The cold Ohio weather had finally broken them down. As she did most of their neighbors, Aunt El had grown to like the Vasquez family. She easily traded Manny’s moving services for a stolen case of chicken Kesari’s dad had taken from his last day on the job.
The snow on that Saturday morning had all of Columbus looking dark and dirty. People drove careful or scared, or both. So, when Kesari’s parents went out to make their rounds at the local grocery stores to retrieve empty cardboard boxes, it went without being said that it would be an hour or two before they came back. Manny was in the kitchen wrapping coffee mugs in newspaper when Kesari walked up and kissed him in the mouth. The surprise of the act had stolen its delight, making Manny wanting a do over. He kissed her again and this time butterflies made their way into the space between his heart and stomach. A space that may not have even existed before that moment. The butterflies must have gotten to Kesari too, because before Manny knew it, she had led him by his hand upstairs to her small empty bedroom. The rest was history. After that day, that act, those butterflies, he never seen or heard from her again. Manny took it for what it was, and moved on.
“Shit! The party,” Manny said! He had fallen into a deep slumber without even realizing he had ever gotten tired. Dreaming of pretty girls with long hair blowing out the windows of dope whips. The car was his, so were the girls. Time wasn’t as thoughtful as the Vasquez family. It had left without a notice. Packed up and moved out without a kiss goodbye. Manny hopped out the bed. The last thing Manny wanted to do was show up late to his own party. Good thing the event was taking place right next door. The clock built in to the phone on the nightstand read three thirty. His clothes had wrinkled while he slept, the armpits of his shirt were wet.
“Fuck!” he yelled. He couldn’t afford to mess this outfit up. Literally.
Manny grabbed the phone sitting on the nightstand and dialed zero.
“Front desk, this is Raele speaking,”
“Hi. This is Manny, I mean Emmanuel in room, um…” Manny couldn’t remember his room number. He looked around for a clue.
“314. Yes, Mr Wright,” How can I help you?” Raele asked.
“Do you all have a washer and dryer I could use?”
“We do offer laundry service, here, Mr. Wright. Would you like me to send someone up to collect your things first thing in the morning?”
“Ah nah, I needed it right now.”
“You have some things you need washed now, sir?” Raele asked, leaving out a bit of the pep that had just been there a second ago.
“Yes, Ma’am,” Manny answered, hurriedly.
There was an irritated sigh, then quick enough to make Manny ask himself did he ever hear it, Raele went back into the-customer-is-always-right mode, like a malfunctioning robot.“Okay, Mr. Wright, I’ll be right up to collect your things.
“Thank you,” Manny said and hung up the phone. Quickly, he pulled off the wrinkled pants and the sweaty shirt. He put on a pair of shorts from his bag.
A soft tap at the door , followed by Raele’s voice, told him that time was up. He picked up the dirty clothes, making sure the wet armpits were hidden.
He opened the door, and to his surprise the young lady staring back at him didn’t look like help at all. On the contrary, she was pretty enough to be some rich mans spoiled daughter. Manny figured that’s probably why they hired her. She looked like money. Raele had dark small features that stood out effortlessly on vanilla latte colored skin, much like him. Raele was lighter than Manny. She was the type of light skinned that made folks ask you if you were mixed with something. Manny was just the type black folks called high yellow but they knew his ass was one hundred percent black.
Raele looked at a shirtless Manny through skinny dark eyes. If she was impressed by his chiseled little six pack her expression refused to show it. Small lips, covered in clear gloss didn’t smile. Her black hair hung long, reaching her back. Manny caught himself staring too long, wondering was it weave. Wondering would it slip out if he pulled on it. He snapped out of the trance and tried handing her the clothes in his hand. Raele shook her head.
“Put them in a bag please,” She raised an eyebrow and smirked. “I don’t know you like that, bro.”
Her curtness brought a smile to Manny’s face. He was happy to meet someone he wouldn’t have to put on an act in front of.
“I don’t have a bag?” Manny replied.
“Raele used her foot to pull down the metal latch and prop the heavy door open. She walked into the room and pulled open the door to a closet on her right with a familiarity that told Manny this wasn’t her first time showing ghetto ass teenagers where rich people kept shit. Prior to this moment, Manny hadn’t even noticed the closet. In it there were six hangers, two garment bags, an ironing board and iron, and three plastic laundry bags. Manny knew they were laundry bags because they all read “LAUNDRY” in bold blue print right across them. Raele snatched down a bag and turned to Manny with a face that read, Here’s the bag, stupid.
“Oh, shoot I didn’t even see that closet,” Manny said. He took the bag and stuffed the clothes inside.
“It’s fine. What time do your need your clothes back,” she asked taking the bag along with another quick peak at Manny’s half dressed body. She wasn’t slick. Manny smiled and so did Raele.
“I mean if you don’t want me to get dressed, just say the word,” Manny tried his game hand. He walked a little closer to Raele. His height over her, his dark dreads still messy from oversleeping, tripled with those dimples and made the temperature in the room rise. Raele took a step back.
“Boy bye,” she laughed. “Sorry, but I’m taken.” She added. She raised an eyebrow and scooted her glossed lips to the right side of her face to form a grin that admitted in another time, another place, she might have made another choice.
Manny was fine with that. He’d be here awhile.
Manny remembered he had more pressing matters at hand, “The welcome party is at six o’clock. So, five is good.” he said.
“OK, Mr. Wright, I’ll have your clothes ready.” Raele said, remembering she was an employee and not a guest.
Raele went about her way. Manny hit the shower.
© 2017 by Aja Brown Crowder