On a Saturday night, Alyssa’s older brother Paul was driving down Orlando’s Interstate 4. Paul owned medium-brown skin and wore short dreadlocks.
Next to him sat his girlfriend Cheryl. Cheryl owned light-brown skin and wore blonde extensions that touched her shoulders.
Alyssa was sitting in the back as she scrolled Facebook on her cellphone. Alyssa was the same medium brown complexion as Paul. Also, she wore braid extensions.
“It’s three bars,” Paul said. “There’s Baton Rouge, Vintage and Rooftop Lounge. Baton Rouge is where we’re going.”
Then Cheryl asked, “Why do they call it Baton Rouge?”
“I think one of the owners is from Louisiana. Thus the name Baton Rouge.”
“Oh, okay. And you say they play rap music.”
“Okay, I guess I can try a different place tonight.”
Alyssa was still scrolling Facebook.
When the three entered the Downtown Orlando spot, rap music was playing just like Paul said it would.
Soon, they joined the multiracial crowd on the dance floor.
After four more songs, Alyssa said, “I’ll be back.”
Paul’s face turned sour.
“Where are you going?” he asked.
“To the bathroom,” Alyssa said.
“Take Cheryl with you.”
Then, Cheryl said, “Yea, I’ll go with you.”
Then, Alyssa said, “No, I’ll be okay.”
Then, Paul said, “Take Cheryl with you, Alyssa.”
“I’ll be okay.”
Alyssa started walking away.
“Alyssa!” Paul yelled.
Yet, Alyssa continued on.
After using the restroom, Alyssa noticed the hall leading to Vintage. A black security guy stood near the entrance. He was a tall light-skinned dude who appeared age thirty-something.
Twice Alyssa had been to Baton Rouge with Paul but she never walked into Vintage.
To cure her curiosity, she decided she would walk around Vintage for a few moments. Then, she would rejoin Paul and Cheryl in Baton Rouge.
Alyssa passed the security guy and wandered into Vintage. On the walls, vintage concert posters displayed. Music from Baton Rouge played on the speakers. A bar counter took up most of the space.
Figuring there wasn’t anything special, Alyssa walked back to Baton Rouge.
Yet, when she returned, Paul and Cheryl were gone.
She decided to text them. When she reached into her purse, it was minus her phone. She realized after scrolling Facebook in the car, she forgot to put the phone back in her purse.
Now, she had no way of contacting them. Alyssa searched around Baton Rouge. Nothing. She couldn’t find Paul and Cheryl anywhere.
Next, she walked back to Vintage and looked around. They weren’t here either.
As Alyssa left Vintage, she noticed the security guy watching her.
When she entered Baton Rouge again, Alyssa walked the stairs that led up to The Rooftop Lounge.
An outdoor spot, electronic music played as people danced.
As she pushed through the crowded area, Alyssa looked around. Paul and Cheryl weren’t here either.
Fear gripped her. Did Paul and Cheryl leave her? How would she get home? She was now probably stuck in Downtown Orlando.
She walked back to Baton Rouge. She searched around and still couldn’t find Paul and Cheryl.
Then, she headed towards Vintage. The security guy looked at her again.
“Are you lost?” he asked.
Alyssa looked at him. His face seemed friendly, almost like a favorite uncle’s face.
“I can’t find my brother and his girlfriend,” Alyssa said as she almost cried. “And I lost my phone.”
“I got a phone,” the security guy said.
He pulled out his phone.
“I don’t remember anyone’s number,” Alyssa said.
Now, she really felt stranded.
“Oh shit,” the security guy said.
Panic continued driving Alyssa damned near crazy. What was she going to do?
She remembered stories about Downtown Orlando. Shootings. Muggings. Rapes. The rape stories shivered her nerves the worst.
Then, the security guy said, “How about we talk to the DJ? Then, we can get him to call out your brother and his girlfriend.”
“Okay,” Alyssa said.
“And if that don’t work, we’ll think of something. Don’t worry. You’ll be okay.”
The security guy started walking to Baton Rouge. Alyssa grabbed his grabbed his left arm and walked behind him.
At Baton Rouge, she saw Paul and Cheryl. And Paul looked pissed.
“Come on,” he said.
Alyssa released the security guy’s arm and walked off with Paul and Cheryl.
Then, Paul asked, “Why were you following that guy?”
“He was security,” Alyssa said.
“I don’t care who he was,” Paul said. “That nigga looked dangerous.”
“No, he didn’t. He was helping me.”
“Forget it. Let’s go. We’re going somewhere else now.”
Months later, Paul sent Alyssa a text message. The message contained a link to an article.
The first thing Alyssa noticed was the mug shot photo. Her eyes widened as she covered her mouth. It was the security guy from Vintage and Baton Rouge.
Next, Alyssa read the article.
Sunday afternoon, Orange County Police arrested 32 year old Alexander Stevens. A homeless runaway claimed Stevens befriended her and offered her his place to sleep. There, the sixteen year old runaway claims Stevens handed her a glass of Coke. After drinking the soda, the runaway became drowsy. Then, the runaway claims Stevens repeatedly raped her. Also, during the rapes, the runaway claims Stevens repeatedly slapped her across the face.
When Stevens left his house, the victim managed to escape. She ran to a nearby neighbor and begged them to call the police.
Alyssa remembered what Stevens told her at Vintage.
How about we talk to the DJ? Then, we can get him to call out your brother and his girlfriend. And if that don’t work, we’ll think of something. Don’t worry. You’ll be okay.
The last part ran through Alyssa’s head again.
And if that don’t work, we’ll think of something. Don’t worry. You’ll be okay.
Then, the most disturbing part ran through her head.
And if that don’t work, we’ll think of something.
Alyssa realized the same thing that happened to the runaway could have happened to her.
Paul’s guess was right. The nigga was dangerous.