The Turning Point: Whiskey And Merlot A Love Story

A week before Isabelle’s romantic date with Lincoln, she witnesses a debate between co-workers on her teleworking part-time job at TLC Radio Station one evening. Impressed by his candor after being confronted by a male co-worker, Isabelle views him differently and eventually agrees to a date.

One Thursday evening, Isabelle, ten minutes late, noticed the work area was scarce of workers. Except for two women gabbing on the phone in the next aisle, the place was virtually empty. Where is everybody? Did something happen? Puzzled, she locked her handbag in the desk drawer and booked it to the break room.

Upon her arrival, Isabelle heard loud, angry voices exploding from behind the door. With her hand poised on the doorknob, she eased the door opened and looked inside. Pat, with her face puffed up like a jellyfish, was embroiled in a heated debate with Cashmere Jones. She stood over him with her hands on her hips.

Droplets of water sprayed from her lips as she shouted in his face. He slid his chair back, wiping his face with his coat sleeve, his copper-brown eyes bulging out of his head. “Woman, stop spitting on me!”

She scowled. “I didn’t spit on you!” She shoved her chair backward with her feet.

Anita Hill and Clarence Thomas were the topic of discussion and everyone in the room had gathered into a big circle. The chaotic scene looked like a boxing match between two heavy-weight fighters. Isabelle panned the room and found Lincoln sitting near the refrigerator, stroking his well-groomed mustache. He appeared introspective, deep in thought as his mocha eyes studied Cashmere.

Isabelle tiptoed in and closed the door. She settled in a chair on the back wall.

Pat, looking wolfish, kept hurling insult after insult at Cashmere. Although his name was Cashmere, there was nothing soft or luxurious about him. The dark bags under his eyes made him looked sleepy, rough, and much older than his stated age of thirty-eight. His outfit, a wrinkled black suit three sizes too big, matched the wide brim hat hanging off the side of his head. Tightly thick beaded black hair grew around his ears and temples. He looked like an old, sleazy drunk on skid road. He was three gallons of crazy in a two-gallon bucket, and his pig-headed viewpoints rubbed women the wrong way.

“Cashmere! Don’t get me to arguing and cussing with you!” Pat screamed in his face with her false teeth clicking like a softly ticking clock. “Anita Hill is not lying! The man put pubic hair in her coke for goodness sake!”

“Yeah, he also referred to his nasty ding-a-ling as his long dong silver,” hissed an angry woman with a red afro.

Isabelle cringed as she imagine pubic hair floating in a glass of coke. She scooted her chair closer to the door, ready to book at any minute. 

“She’s a temptress,” Cashmere charged with his thick lips curling. “She seduced him, and when he got some, he dumped her little ass. She got mad and came up with this cockled knuckled bull!”

Every woman in the room hissed and gnashed their teeth, popping out of their seats like jack-in-the-boxes. Spewing gross expletives out of sore mouths, they accused Cashmere of being a male chauvinist pig. Cashmere withered in his seat like a frightened little boy who just got spanked. He looked to the men around the room to bail him out, but no one volunteer.

Agony clouded his features, and he wailed in desperation, “Hey guys, help a brother out!”

With a stone face, Lincoln stood to his feet and threw up his hands. He went for the exit. “Bruh, you are on your own.”

“Man, you know I’m right!” he yelled at Lincoln.

Lincoln stopped in mid-stride and turned to face him, his eyes steely and vacant of warmth. “No, you’re not!” he said raising his heavy voice. “Clarence Thomas puts us men to shame! He’s an asshole!”

Pat screamed from her corner of the room. “That’s what I’m talking about, a man with some damn sense!”

Shouts of approval erupted around the room. Defeated and embarrassed, Cashmere scowled as he sank further in his seat. He pouted and threw his arms on his chest. 

Isabelle’s mouth gaped open. Lincoln’s response took her by surprise. His opinion, different from most men on the subject, was refreshing to her. Her view of him changed that very moment. He was strong. A true rebel. A man not afraid to stand up for his beliefs. 

Impressed, Isabelle gave him the thumbs up as he glided past her out the door. She slid out of her seat and followed him. He hadn’t gotten very far. He always took his sweet time walking with his easy swagger. 

“Lincoln!” she called out trying to keep her voice low.

He stopped and turned around and grinned when he saw her. “What’s going on?”

Isabelle strolled up to him. “You were great in there!” She smiled broadly.

“Cashmere doesn’t know what he’s talking about half of the time,” he said.

“Well, he has a closed mind. I can see why the women don’t like him,” she giggled.

Lincoln laughed.  “Baby Girl, he’s nothing but a punk in a cheap suit!”

Isabelle fell out giggling even harder. She loved his sense of humor. As they walked together, he slyly asked, “Care to get a drink this Saturday evening?”

Tickled, she fell out into a belly laugh. She couldn’t help herself. Lincoln was still trying to seduce her, only this time it was working. The corners of his lips turned up into a boyish grin. “What’s so funny?”

“Oh, please,” she groaned. “You know what you’re doing.”

He let out a frustrated sigh. “Isabelle, it’s just a drink between friends.”

For a moment, she mulled over his words. She knew he was manipulative, but now she didn’t care. He was her hero. He was the man. “All right, what time and where?”

His face dropped, stunned. 

“What’s the matter?” Isabelle innocently asked.

“Are you serious about meeting me for a drink?” he incredulously asked. 

“Absolutely,” she chuckled. “Why not? We’re friends, right?”

“Mmmm…” he said with his mocha eyes grazing up and down her body as if he would like to eat her up.

“Stop it,” she giggled tilting her head back. 

“Stop what?”

“Looking at me like…”

He shrugged his shoulders. “Like what?” 

“All sexy like!”

“I can’t look at you?” he asked raising his eyebrows as he invaded her personal space. She could smell the sweet scent of his lavender cologne, and her head swam. The heat radiating from his body made her quiver with goosebumps. She knew he was going to kiss her if she didn’t move out of his reach. So, she placed her hand on his chest and gently pushed him back. “Stop it,” she said in a syrupy voice.

“Mmmmm…okay,” he grinned, still checking her out. “So, this date we’re going on, you and me, let’s meet at Paschal’s on MLK Way.”

“What time?” she asked fluttering her long black eyelashes. 

“Eight-thirty,” he flatly said.

“Eight-thirty it is,” she said in a honeyed voice.

“Good,” he said, looking pleased. He started to walk away, and Isabelle stopped him, placing her hands on her hips. Her eyes widen in an exaggerated fashion. 

“Be on time,” she warned. “If you are one minute late, I mean one minute, don’t bother coming. This girl waits for nobody.”

He cracked up laughing. “Don’t you worry, Baby Girl, I’ll be there. You can count on it.”