Read an Excerpt
What’s Done in the Dark . . .
Will Come to the Light!
“Hey, girl!” Egypt greeted Bambi with a hug as she stepped into the restaurant lobby. She handed her a drink—her favorite, a Passion-fruit Alizé. “You are never gonna believe all the people in that back room, and they are all here for you.”
Although she hadn’t let on to Reggie, Bambi had known he was throwing her a party, thanks to Egypt, her best friend since sixth grade. Reggie had asked for Egypt’s assistance not only in helping to pull the party together but also in selecting the five carat engagement ring. Too bad he never suspected that Egypt would consult with Bambi about which ring she wanted, and that was exactly the ring that Egypt selected for her friend. But Egypt made Bambi promise to act surprised when she arrived at the party.
As she looked around, Bambi couldn’t help but be touched by the effort Reggie had made. The restaurant had been beautifully decorated with what seemed to be thousands of white roses, their smell enveloping her as she looked around. Through out the lobby and all over the ballroom, there were enlarged pictures of the couple from their many travels, and also from their two-year journey from the ’hood where they’d met to their first apartment and finally to their personal paradise.
It took everything in her not to cry. She knew she couldn’t because she hadn’t applied waterproof makeup on her face.
“Now, you sure you want to go through with this?” Egypt asked, laughing.
“The party or the wedding?” Bambi asked with a straight face.
“Real funny, real funny.”
The party was already going crazy—there must have been about a hundred people in there, along with seafood buffet tables and three open bars. A DJ was playing “The Men All Pause,” that golden oldie by Klymaxx, and the guests had been liquoring up nicely at the open bar. At the sight of Bambi, the music stopped, and so did everything else, and Bambi could feel every set of eyes in the room glued on her, their smiles paying respect to the queen.
Bambi couldn’t believe all of the people who had blessed her with their appearance. She saw a man who was obviously Reggie’s dad. She had never met him before, and she was touched that he’d come all the way up from New Orleans. Of course her favorite cousin, Zonna, was there. But there were her friends and family there, too—folks Reggie didn’t even know but somehow had managed to invite, like her Grandma Ellie.
Grandma Ellie was her mother’s mother, and when Bambi was growing up, Grandma Ellie was her only ticket to the free world. She’d loved to go over to her grandmother’s house. It was there she got to let her hair down and have fun. Grandma Ellie wasn’t snobby at all, unlike the rest of her mother’s friends or anyone that Tricia had let into the invisible bubble that surrounded Bambi. Grandma Ellie had always been the one to keep things in order when Tricia was out of whack. For the old lady to be anywhere other than church this time of night was a miracle in itself.
Grandma Ellie put her hands on both Bambi’s arms. “Let me look at you. You look so perty. I’m so happy for you, baby. He better treat you right.” Just then Bambi felt a pair of hands slide over her eyes.
“Is that my prince? Is that you, baby?” She knew it was. She could smell his Issey Miyake cologne, and, boy, did it smell good!
When Reggie removed his hands, she turned around to face him. Ummp, ummp, ummp! Lord have mercy, could thugged out Reggie rock a suit or what? It was a crisp white Armani double-breasted suit, hemmed perfectly to lie well over his shoes, with a white pimp-daddy hat cocked a little to the side over his white do-rag, which covered his neatly braided cornrows. Reggie had his collar pulled up to try to camouflage the scratch on his neck from the squabble earlier, but she noticed it anyway. Ulll, she thought. Thinking of the pain that scratch must have caused turned her stomach, but that only lasted a moment because seeing him done up so nice made her wet between the legs. For a second she thought about pulling him to the ladies’ room to hop on his dick real quick, but then she remembered that she’d have him for a lifetime.
“May I have this dance?” He extended his hand to her and smiled with his gold teeth glistening.
“Yes, you may,” she said with a smile, giving him her hand as they took to the dance floor. Reggie usually just stood against the wall and nodded his head. Tonight was different. He knew Bambi loved to dance, and tonight and from this day forward her wish would be his command.
The DJ began to play Tony! Toni! Tone!’s “Anniversary.” Straight old-school all of the way. Could things be any more perfect?
After the song was over, someone tapped her on her shoulder. “May I cut in and have this dance with your handsome man?” Bambi was surprised at the voice. It was her mother, and although she hadn’t seen her mother in months, as always she was as clean as the board of health. She had on a soft pink Chanel suit with the shoes, hat, and bag to match. It didn’t even matter to Bambi that her uptight mother was tipsy as hell. Bambi knew she had not only had a few drinks but she had probably dropped a Valium or something to have her so laid-back and relaxed.
She hugged her mother and said, “Thank you so much for coming, Mommy! I’m so glad you are here with me.”
“I would not have missed this for the world! Now, baby, go to the restroom and fix your makeup because your forehead is glowing, and let me get my dance on with my future son-in-law,” Tricia said, speaking with perfect composure the entire time and holding her breath as she looked directly into her daughter’s eyes.
Bambi went to the bathroom to check her face. When Bambi was growing up, her mother had made her go to Sunday school and church every week. Since she had gotten with Reggie, she wasn’t as religious, but looking in the mirror, she said a silent prayer: Lord, God up in heaven, I just want to take this time to thank you for showing me all the signs and for giving me a reason not to walk away from this relationship. God, you know all about my problems with this man, how I was holding on to my sanity for dear life while he was in jail. Thank you, Lord, for revealing the big picture to me and, most importantly, for helping me maintain my peace of mind. And had this not worked out, Lord, I knew you had my back as long as I was steadfast. God, I could go on thanking you all night because you do so much for me. But I am going to keep this short and sweet! In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.
Bambi hurried and washed her hands. When she exited the bathroom door, she couldn’t believe her eyes. Some dude was standing right in front of her, blocking her path, wearing the very same sweater she had on: an N. T. Original, cut from the same cloth.
Ain’t this some shit? I thought these sweaters were handmade and one of a kind. To top it off, how dare somebody show up at my party trying to outshine the queen herself. But whatever—it’s cool because it’s my night and can’t nobody, and I mean nobody, take my shine away from me. It’s a whole bunch of divas up in here tonight but I am “that diva,” and everybody here knows it, too.
It was a whole lot easier to forgive a man than a woman. Now, if some chick would have come stepping into “her” party wearing “her” sweater, words would have never been exchanged. The only thing she would have said was, “Security get this imposter up out of here.”
The dude had a nice build on him, caramel complexion, hair neatly braided to the back. His linen pants fell perfectly over his Italian loafers, and he was wearing that sweater well, to the point she just had to compliment him. “I really love that sweater, and you’re wearing the hell out of it, too.”
The guy just glared at her. “You just ought to, ’cause your man bought it for me.”
“What did you say?” She knew her ears must have heard wrong.
“You heard me. Your man bought this for me, and everything else he buys or has bought for you—guess what, Boo?—he buys one for me, too.”
“What?” Bambi could barely get the word out.
“That’s right. You heard me, Ms. Two,” he said, jabbing a finger in her face. “I said ‘your man.’ That’s right, yo man, Boo, is in love with me!” The tone of his voice lifted as he dropped the bombshell in her lap. “Your man be laying pipe all up in me, and I slobs the hell out of his knob on a regular, Boo. When I say regularly, I mean just that. But to clear the smoke in the air, I mean seven days a week, and twice on Sundays.”
Bambi couldn’t believe what she was hearing. “Who the hell are you?”
“Jack, but you can call me . . . Jackie, beeaaiiitch.”
“Now, I know you just didn’t say what I thought you said,” Bambi said, getting hot.
“Look, let me give it to you in plain ol’ English, because you act like I am speaking Spanish. What I’m saying is that your man’s a homo-thug!” he said, twisting his neck. She was so close to him she could smell the Big Red gum on his breath, which he had the nerve to use to blow into a bubble in her face.
He continued. “And every time you kiss him, you are sucking my dick or eating my ass.” He ended that statement with a snap of the finger as if he was reading her. Now, that last comment snapped Bambi out of her trance, and she did what was natural for her to do. She drew back without even blinking or thinking twice and popped him one right in the jaw. It never dawned on her that she wasn’t fighting an average chick. She was indeed fighting a man, and while her blow might have been hard enough to send a big woman to her knees, it only made Jack, or Jackie, or however the hell he liked to be addressed,stumble a little, but not enough to lose his balance.
Before Jack could retaliate, Egypt appeared. That girl had a sixth sense when it came to Bambi and always had her back. Egypt didn’t hear the exact content of the conversation, but truthfully, she didn’t care the least bit. She just knew by the astonishment written all over Bambi’s face that whatever it was, it wasn’t nothing nice.
Egypt began to pummel him, and Bambi threw a hell of an uppercut; and Jack began to scream, falling to his knees. Bambi tried to stomp him, but Jack pulled her to the floor and somehow grabbed Bambi’s long, flowing hair, holding on to it for dear life.
The three of them were rolling around on the floor making a commotion when Reggie and some of the guests heard them and hurried into the hallway.
A couple big fellas pried the girls off Jack. They had beaten him around pretty good. One of them turned to Reggie, laughing. “Damn man, what type of shit you into, Reggie? Hope you know what to do with all of that.”
Reggie didn’t smile. He pretended not to notice Jack, giving no indication of their relationship. “Security, get this man the fuck up out of here,” Reggie said as one of his homeboys got the crowd under control and sent everybody back inside of the restaurant.
“Redddggie, oh no, you didn’t say have this man removed! You wasn’t saying that three hours ago when you was laying pipe all up in me.”
“Shut the fuck up!” Reggie demanded, giving Jack an evil look.
“Reggie, please tell me it isn’t so,” Bambi said, with hurt written all across her face. With all her heart, she wanted to believe that this was all some type of cruel joke.
“Look, I can explain! We’ll talk about this later.”
“Bitch!” Bambi uttered, as she spit in Reggie’s face. “Tell me he’s lying.”
“Baby, I said we gonna talk about this later. There really ain’t no need to make no scene,” Reggie pleaded to Bambi. Bambi saw guilt written all over his face. Before he knew it, he felt the smack from her Gucci high heel cluck the side of his face.
“Oh, hell no. We ain’t escorting a soul up out of here. We are going to get all this BS in the open because it’s just that! Bullshit!” Bambi shouted almost at the top of her lungs.
Reggie was cold busted, and so he did what any coward would do in his shoes. He punched Jack dead in the face.
“You lying ma’fucka,” Reggie shouted. But Bambi knew it was just an act.
Jack fell to his knees with tears dropping from his eyes.
“Oh, this is beautiful. Just such a great part of the entertainment, Reggie, but tonight the entertainment is on me!” On that note, Bambi stormed off.
Reggie tried to follow Bambi, but Egypt pushed him out of the way and followed closely behind her.
“Girl,” Egypt said, “that was an Oscar-winning performance, and I can tell this definitely isn’t the time for a commercial.”
Bambi got to the closed door that led into the grand ballroom. As she stopped in her tracks, she turned around to ask Egypt, “Is my face a’ight to go in here in front of all these folks?”
Egypt simply grabbed a napkin from a nearby lobby podium. She spit on the napkin a little and wiped the blood off of Bambi’s face and combed through Bambi’s hair with her fingers to try to get it back in order as best as she could. That’s when Reggie walked up.
“Look, Bambi, we can work this out. I invited you here to ask you to marry me. I love you,” Reggie pleaded.
“Love? You brought me here to marry me? You think I want to marry a freaking bitch with a damn dick?”
“Ouch,” Egypt said, looking at Reggie with a smirk.
“I’m not wit that gay stuff,” Bambi continued. “I mean, let’s be real. What could I do for you now? I mean, come on now, jump in any time. How and where do I start to compete with a man? There is no competition, and I am not even going there with you.”
Reggie dropped his head in shame as Bambi went to put the icing on the cake. She pushed the doors open and began to search for her prey. Misery loved company, and if she was hurt, a whole bunch of other people were going to leave there feeling her pain. She scanned the room like a surveillance camera. She walked toward her potential target as Reggie trailed behind her begging her not to make a scene. Bambi didn’t care about making a scene. Hell, the damage was already done. Her night was ruined; the good life that she had worked so hard for was gone down the drain, thrown out of the window, and flushed down the damn toilet. It was no turning back now. Bambi was the victim and hadn’t done anything wrong but been a fool for love.
“Bambi, please, don’t do this. Please don’t embarrass yourself,” Reggie pleaded with tears in his eyes.
He had no idea what she had up her sleeve.
“Oh, it’s not for me to be embarrassed, and I don’t care if these people know or not, but there is one person I want to know—yo damn momma!”
At that very moment, she walked up to Reggie’s mother, Dot. Dot was on the dance floor doing a combination of the old-school dances—the robot and the funky chicken—having a jolly old time with her ex-husband.
“What’s wrong, Bambi? Is everything okay?” Reggie’s dad asked.
I feel like asking him, Do everything look okay? This is even better, a father to feel the pain of his son being gay. There will be someone coming out of this more hurt than me.
“Hellll nah! No! Everything’s not okay. I just found out that your son is fucking men now. He’s gay, a fucking faggot.”
“What?” he said, more confused than angry.
Before she could explain further, Ms. Dot looked at Bambi with deep sincerity, took her into her arms, and pulled her tight to her bosom as only a mother could comfort a child. “I am sorry you had to find out like this,” Dot whispered in Bambi’s ear. For the first time that night, Bambi let loose the tears she’d been holding back. But then she realized what Ms. Dot had said and started to get very angry. How could Ms. Dot, a woman just like she was, who had claimed to love her like the daughter she’d never had, withhold such a heart-wrenching secret from her? How long had they expected this charade to go on? Did they not think that such a skeleton would ever fall out of the closet? Hadn’t Ms. Dot heard of that saying: “What’s done in the dark will always come to the light?”
Bambi pushed away from Ms. Dot and did something she’d wanted to do from the first day she had met her, but would never have dared to do till now. She reached over and snatched off that funky-looking wig that Ms. Dot was certain made her look like Foxy Brown but which actually made her look like Foxy Clown. Bambi wanted to make her feel as humiliated as she herself felt.
As she tossed the wig on the floor and turned to go, she realized it was going to be a long time before her broken heart mended!
Bambi lay in her hotel suite crying, mascara everywhere, still wearing her party outfit, when she heard a knock on the door. She didn’t want to answer, but whoever was knocking wasn’t going to leave her alone. Finally, Bambi got out of bed and was surprised to see Tricia with a bottle of Dom Perignon in a bucket on ice.
“Do you mind if I join you?” Tricia said. Her voice was a little slurred, but she wasn’t too far gone.
“Come on. Just don’t tell me ‘I told you so.’ Because, Ma, I can’t take it right now.”
Tricia kicked her shoes off and pulled up a chair in front of the bed. “Look, baby, I know this is not what you expected to come out of tonight, but better you know now than ten years from now.”
“I know, Mom.”
Tricia popped open the bottle and poured champagne for herself and Bambi. “Over the years I’ve seen you and your grandma look at me sideways because I’ve only been interested in a man’s possessions. Well, in all your years have you ever seen me cry over a man?”
Bambi looked at her mother and then shook her head no.
“Do you know why?”
Bambi was silent as she looked at her mother and waited to hear what she had to say.
“I was never emotionally attached to those men, just to their bank account. I loved what they had, what they could give me. And when the money ran out, there was nothing for me to like about them.” She added, “To sum it up, when the money was gone, I was gone.”
“You don’t have to tell me all of this, Ma.”
“I know, baby, but it’s important,” she said, pouring herself another drink. “I need you to make me a promise. I need you to promise that you’re never gonna give a man your heart again.”
“The way I feel right now, I could kill every man in sight.”
“No sense hurting them physically, baby. You already done enough of that tonight. Next time you hurt them, do it where it hurts . . . in their pockets!”
For the next few weeks, Bambi would play those words over and over in her mind, time and time again!
From the Trade Paperback edition.