Queen City Noir (part 2)

Roz moved to the Charlotte, NC area ten years ago from Brooklyn, NY. The small southern city was full of hope for the future. Real estate and property taxes in the North were becoming unbearable, so people began to sell their property. The sales pitch was that the small quaint southern city was growing and becoming more diverse with the influx of people from the West Coast and the Northeast. People, mostly families, moved to Charlotte in search of more. More house, more land, more car, and in many cases, more debt.

Nasir and Roz grew up in the vibrancy and turbulence of 1980s Brooklyn NY. Ros was raised in a beautifully appointed project apartment that was haunted by depression and heartache.

By the time Roz was thirty years old, she had experienced a series of traumatic events that left her with her own mental health issues to navigate. Somewhere during those shattering events, she and Nasir took their off again on again romance to the altar and in front of 50 witnesses on a crisp autumn day in New York City, they committed their lives to one another. Nasir’s love was the balm her soul needed to heal.

Two years later Roz gave birth to their son Nelson. That’s when she and Nasir decided to sell one of the Brooklyn condos he inherited from his great grandmother and move down South. Nasir felt that a move would be great for them to begin their lives anew. When they visited Charlotte, Roz fell in love with the willow trees and the smell of honeysuckle in the spring. The canopy of oak trees along Queens Rd offered visitors a royal welcome as they drove down the historic main streets. Raising a child in a peaceful place where they could be free from the violence they knew growing up was a dream for them both. Paris, Roz’s first child from another relationship reluctantly joined them. Roz was filled with hope and promise.

Nasir, Roz, Paris, and Nelson settled in one of the newest communities that promised growth, diversity and a decent commute to work for Ros and school for Paris. Ballantyne, located in the southern suburb of Charlotte, fulfilled the entire sales pitch; great schools and more house. They purchased a gently used SUV in cash and settled into their new life.

In 2008 the country suffered an economic tsunami. Millions of Americans were hijacked of their most basic dreams. Nasir lost his job while Roz was barely holding onto hers.

Nasir refused to sell another one of their properties. The recession was harder on his tenants back in Brooklyn so they took a substantial loss on rent for three years, they took whatever people could give. In exchange, the tenants took responsibility for making repairs, keeping up with utilities and maintaining the grounds, grateful for a place to live the arrangement worked during the toughest days of the recession.

To stay above water Nasir took a sales job at one of the major banks. For the next five years, he worked on his own dream after work until two in the morning building a successful advertising agency. The agency landed a major beverage client and was able to open an office on the west coast.

Nasir and Roz celebrated her birthday and the success of the agency last night. Tonight was ladies night, celebrating Roz.

As the server arrived with her drink, a gin, and tonic. Roz looked up and recognized the gentleman from The Vinyl Room the night before. The Vinyl Room was a place in the Midwood Plaza section of Charlotte where music lovers could bring their old Vinyl records, sip on their favorite liquor and chill. It’s a spot where artists, of all ages and ethnicities, gather and vibe over the pure sound of vinyl. Whoever sits near the record player first sets the vibe of the room. You better have good music or you’d get “bullied” out of your DJ duties for the evening. The man standing in front of Roz arrived early and played all the Anita Baker songs that had Roz feeling nostalgic and sexy, that lead to another passionate date night with Nasir.

“Hi, I remember you too, you’re the “DJ” from the Vinyl Room,” Roz replied.

“A “DJ”, Nah. Just an old dude who kept his records”

He extended his hand for a formal introduction.

“My name is Christopher Warren. ”

“Roz Bailey”

“No husband tonight?”

“Not tonight, It’s ladies night!”

“I’ve seen you somewhere before Roz. Before last night.”

Roz laughed at the friendly stranger

“You flirtin’ with a married woman?”

“Nah! I know it sounded like that but- ”

“Biiiiiiiittttttccccchhhhh!!!!”

Everyone sitting nearby had their conversation briefly interrupted by a woman walking across the floor with a powerful runway glide it was Roz’s friend Rhonda. Her heart lit up with pure joy, Rhonda was the life of every party she determined worthy of attending. Roz jumped up, forgetting the friendly stranger and braced for one of Rhonda’s epic hugs.

Rhonda was one of Roz’s dearest friends in Charlotte. They met at a local pizza shop uptown, both new the city they were looking for some semblance of real pizza. Roz dropped her phone while digging in her pocketbook for her money and Rhonda gasped so loud as the phone hit the concrete it made Roz laugh. This strangers concern for the strong possibility of her phone shattering into hundreds of cracks was beautiful to her. Rhonda shared with her that she had shattered her new phone the same week she bought it. She was still recovering and didn’t wish that first world problem on any other American. They ate lunch together critiquing the pizza, Rhonda didn’t have to tell Roz where she was from her Bronx accent revealed all Roz needed to know to feel a level of comfort with Rhonda.

Roz leaned in for her hug and Rhonda did not disappoint. She had the kind of hug that insisted you mattered. She took a deep breath, held you close and exhaled while telling you how much she missed you. She never air kissed Roz like she did so many others. Rhonda kissed Roz right on the cheek and looked her in the eyes for a brief examination of her well being.

Over Rhonda’s shoulder, Roz could see her two other friends walking towards them with a third woman, Roz began the excited girlfriend jump and squeal!

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