Leonard Thomas; the man of the hour, the man responsible for what was turning out to be one of the hottest entertainment parties of the year walked around his spacious home in complete host mode. He stopped to shake hands, hug, and speak with each of the guests that made his night of celebration possible, thanking them for taking the time to support and congratulate him on his most recent successes. Never in his life had he imagined he’d get to this place; success, wealth, fame and recognition, adoration and respect. It was all he’d ever dreamed of growing up in his small hometown.
He smiled wide, making sure to shake hands with all men, and respectfully hug each woman before stepping back to speak briefly. “Hey, how are you doing? Enjoying yourself?”
The random woman, someone he’d never even met, smiled and nodded and he thanked her one last time. Moving on, he continued with these light chats until he reached the opposite side of his backyard and pool area. Clearing his throat, he interrupted the conversation between his fiance and one of his colleagues.
Leonard made light of his nervousness, and less than subtle jealousy, as he put his arm around his fiance’s waist. Had this been any other man, that tinge of jealousy wouldn’t have even hit him.
Looking at his colleague, he gave the fakest smile he could muster up. One of the many industry smiles he’d been taught over the past two years. “Yo, Kamal, I know we work together and all, but you know I’m not too comfortable with you being around my girl. It’s no secret what type of ‘Team Player’ you consider yourself to be.”
Kamal Price, a colleague and rival of sorts, smiled and rubbed the top of Leonard head. “Chill out lil’ man. She likes the model type, and she’s with you… so it’s all good.” He chuckled before turning to Sabrina Ali, Leonard’s fiance. “We’ll finish this conversation later, Doll.”
Sabrina nodded slowly, waving as Kamal walked off. Once he was out of hearing distance, Sabrina gently pulled Leonard away from the rest of his party crowd, standing near the deep end of the pool.
“I do not appreciate you stepping to every single guy that I talk to tonight. No one is trying to plot against you.”
Leonard lowered his eyes. “Okay, first, I’ve only pulled you away from that clown. He calls himself a thot. What self-respecting man refers to himself as a thot?” Sabrina watched at Leonard’s eyebrows rose and fell, a varying range of emotions washing over his face before he finally settled down. “Next, you don’t know these guys like I do, okay. I am the runt of the pack. Everybody plots against me. Look at me, look… at… me.” He pointed from the top of his head, to his chest, to his kneecaps in between words. “I am small. They love to play jokes on my little ass. And I do not put it past any of them to try and drag you in on it.”
“Really Lenny? Ugh, I can’t take this side of you. You refuse to explain this stupid paranoia that you have when it comes to people harassing you because of your height; which, I don’t believe by the way, yet, you keep on with these foolish ideas that someone is plotting to get you.” She sighed heavily before whispering. “No one even cares about you like that.” Sabrina rolled her eyes. “I am tired of it.”
Sabrina folded her arms. “I’m tired of it, and it’s over between us. Move, Burnt Little Man.”
Leonard paused, spinning around once before he checked his surroundings. “Who do you think you’re talking to?”
“YOU, CRISPY SHRIMP!”
“Oh-ho, you’ve gone too far.” Leonard began to undo the buttons of the jacket he was wearing, before he pulled it off and tossed it on to the only empty chair he could see, the only chair in close proximity. “It’s a lot of shit you could say to me, but we’re not doing the height thing. And you’re not going to talk about my skin. I am sexy dark chocolate! Don’t act like you’ve never had a taste of and liked this darkness.”
“What, you’re going to hit a woman? Come on and do it then.” Sabrina stood still, waiting for Leonard to make the next move. Of course, she knew that he would never ever put his hands on a woman, no matter how much she disrespected him. “That’s just what I thought. Now if you’ll excuse me, Kamal and I were having a conversation.”
“Fine, do what you want. But don’t come crying to me when he tries to give you that shit he’s passing between his baby mama’s.”
“Ugh. Bye, Midget.” Walking away, Sabrina brushed past Leonard, intentionally pushing him into the pool that they were standing next to. Before Leonard could find some way to stop himself from falling, his short frame disappeared into the water.
Coming up for air a few seconds later, he began flailing his arms, trying to make it back to the edge of the pool. “Wait! Sabrina! Sabrinaaaaa! Ahhhh, bitch, you know I can’t swim!” As Leonard screamed, trying to find his way out of the pool, those in attendance begin to stand around, unsure if he’s joking or serious.
He was known to be a practical joker, known to try all antics to ensure that those around him enjoyed themselves. It was also well known that he and Sabrina fought often, and after all of their fights or arguments, she’d storm off and he’d be left calling after her, waiting for her to come back. When they noticed that Sabrina had yet to turn around to help him out, they simply went on assuming that he was just putting on some type of show to regain her attention. Another stunt since the two and their rocky relationship is always in the tabloids.
“People! This ain’t a game.” He went down and came back up once again, struggling in between words. “My little ass can’t swim!”
Hearing a commotion as she walked outside with her phone in hand, Leonard’s assistant, Lotus Graham, began looking around to see if she could locate the yelling she’d been hearing all the way inside. It had to be stopped immediately; she knew that Leonard wanted nothing more than for this party to go off smoothly.
Pushing through the crowd of people simply watching, Lotus stopped in her tracks as she caught sight of Leonard, fussing and screaming as he tried to get himself back to safety.
Seeing his hands flailing up and down, she dropped her phone on one of his lawn tables and rushed to help him, fussing at others in her tiny voice as they continued to stand around. “Lenny, stop screaming and grab my hand.” The look on Leonard’s face was one of pure terror. The only thought running through his mind was that he was going to die in his brand new, twelve hundred dollar suit. And if he didn’t die, he was going to find a way to strangle Sabrina without catching a charge.
Finally, after hearing her yell his name and a curse word, one she never used, he snapped out of his thoughts and grabbed Lotus’ hand, nearly pulling her in with him. “Don’t let me die, Lo!”
“Grab my hand, I’m going to pull you, Lenny.” She groaned. “Oh my God, could one of you please help? This isn’t one of his jokes, he really can’t swim!” No one said anything. “Freaking jerks!”
Lotus couldn’t swim either, not well, but she felt she could do just enough to help her boss. After watching Lotus struggle for a few more seconds, just as she was about to take a huge risk in jumping in, another colleague of Leonard’s finally took the situation seriously and jumped in and helped Leonard out of the pool. By then though, he’d already given up after losing his grip on Lotus’ hand.
Once they had him flat on the ground, Lotus kneeled beside Leonard, trying her best to get him to breathe as she did chest compressions. “Stop standing there! Call an ambulance!” Lotus absolutely hated the vapid and self-absorbed people Leonard surrounded himself with day in and day out. He felt they all had his best interest at heart, felt they all genuinely cared for him as a person, but she knew differently. As long as he made money, put money in their pockets, they would be around to collect. To collect money and nothing more. She hoped he would see that once he fully came to.
Pushing down on his chest, trying to get him to cough up the water he’d swallowed, and to breathe, Lotus spoke gently. “Come on Lenny, pull it together.” She sighed, deciding to talk to him the way that he talked to her every day. “Come on Leonard, get it together, get on it and pull yourself together. We’ve got too much to do, with little to no time to do it.” She paused for a moment before doing more chest compressions. “You really should have listened when I told you to settle for a kiddie pool.”
Someone suggested, out of nowhere, that Lotus give up and wait for the paramedics to arrive, but she knew that doing something was better than doing nothing like those just standing around and watching. She was beyond appalled that some even had the nerve to record, but she expected nothing less from the others in attendance. It wasn’t them, and it wasn’t someone they truly considered a friend. Just someone who’s spot they could easily take, not that any of them believed him to be a real threat to their careers.
After a few more seconds passed, what seemed like a lifetime, Leonard began coughing and Lotus let out a deep sigh of relief as she leaned down and gave him a gentle hug. “You’re okay. You’re going to be okay.”
Lotus knew that it was about to be a long night. Working for Leonard Thomas, there were always long days, and even longer… and more stressful nights. This wasn’t the first time he’d gotten into a situation like this, and it most certainly wouldn’t be the last.