Hillman Homecoming: #HalloweenQueen (Part III)

The following installment of the Hillman Homecoming series explains the single event that set off the chain of events that led to Dwayne being installed as President. This occurred 3 years prior to Dwayne’s installment.  Warning: This is a tough and extended piece but I am about to start tackling subjects that the show A Different World did not. This is FAN FICTION and all of this only exist in my head.  Stay with me and I promise you, I will take your imagination on a ride you won’t forget.  This piece is dedicated to whomever it may concern. Enjoy!

Hillman Homecoming Part I
Hillman Homecoming Part II 
 +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

October 2012, Homecoming Week: Monday

You Have 19 Missed Calls.

“What the hell?”Tamiko said to herself as she set up in her bed and read the words across her phone screen.  19. Missed. Calls.  She’d spent the last few hours preparing for a week of Homecoming festivities as Miss Hillman – elect.  It was an honor that her peers had overwhelmingly bestowed upon her earlier in the year. Tamiko spent her entire life dreaming of wearing the crown of Miss Hillman since she was four years old when her parents drove all the way from Ohio to attend her first ever Hillman football game. While her brothers gawked at the players and cheerleaders, and her older sister pestered her mom about taking a picture with Hillman’s mascot, it was Miss Hillman, in all of her radiant Black glory, that captivated her and sent her on a long life love affair with Miss Hillman royalty.   Even at 15, when she found herself homeless and unable to do for herself, Tamiko held on to the dream of being Miss Hillman. It was this dream that drove her desire to work two jobs during the day while earning her GED on the weekends. It was the pursuit of the Miss Hillman crown that prompted her to catch a bus from Oakland, California all the way to Virginia to attend her dream school at age 21.
 


The sun came beaming through her window before 7AM.  Its radiance had been her personal alarm since she came to Hillman over four years ago. Tamiko had overslept this morning by almost an hour and a half, however. Something felt different about today as she stared at her phone screen.

19. Missed. Calls. 

  She would climb out of bed the same way, and meditate for the same 20 minutes; she would eat the same breakfast of pancakes and grapefruit juice  then go over to her closet and spend the same amount of time going through her wardrobe on what she would wear for the day. She would then spend an hour in the shower – the same as before – and another hour doing her hair and “beating” her face. she would then send the same inspirational message to her sorority sisters then check her same social media pages. Finally, she’d text her boyfriend  Diontae – Hillman’s star Quarterback and current boo thang – something halfway between risque and completely inappropriate then smile the same smile as he sent something back equally inappropriate.

There was no same about today, however. Something was different.  Tamiko  started checking her messages:

“Girl, you need to get on Twitter, right now! They are coming for you. Call me back as soon as you-“

Tamiko deleted the message before it ended.  She was not one for the drama and plenty of it came with dating Hillman’s star Quarterback, being the tail of one of the most coveted sororities on campus, and now Miss Hillman-elect, Haters came like pimples and she delighted in popping every single one of them.

“Is this why I got all these damn calls? Some Twitter rumors?” Tamiko said to herself as she listened to the next message.

Message deleted. Next message:

“Tamiko! Your name is dirty out here in these streets, girl! Call me!” It was her girl Jodi, one of her best friends and closest line sisters this time. “Girl, not you, too,” Tamiko said as she deleted the message with a laugh.

Message deleted. Next message:

“Hey, I need you to pick up. It’s Lisa. What’s going on? I’mma need for you to call me back as soon as you can. Bye.”

Tamiko’s heart skipped a beat.  Lisa was her ISM and Dean of Pledges.  She remembers Lisa’s words more than any other soror the night of her crossing: “Don’t ever let me ring ya line.  If I call, know you fucked up.  Other than that, I expect to hear from all you hoes once a week.” 

Message deleted. Next message:

“Yooooo, Tamiko!The Hillman Gazette came for your throat, ma. Call Me back, bye.”

Message deleted. Next message:

“This Von. You need to call me back, ASAP.”

Message deleted. Next message:

“This message is for Tamiko Bailey. This is President Davenport’s office.  When you get this message please give us a call back. It is extremely vital that you call us back at 767-222-4060. Again that number is 767-222-4060.

“What in the hell is going on?” Tamiko said to herself as she got out of bed.  She put her phone on speaker and paced the floor. 

Message deleted. Next message:

“Tamiko, this is Eleanor McGregor, The regional president of Kappa Delta Kappa, Sorority, Incorporated.  This message is regarding your eligibility within our organization. It is absolutely imperative that you give me a call back TO-DAY.  My personal number is 404-555-9239. Again, I cannot stress the importance of you calling me back today. This cannot wait. Take care.”

Tamiko’s heart was beating so hard and so fast, she had to put her hand on her chest to try and ease the anxiety.  Today, was supposed to be the first day of the Homecoming festivities as Miss Hillman – elect.  It was supposed to be a day filled with classes, good food, and the kick off of all of the Homecoming debauchery.  She had Philosophy of Religion at 11. Then, she and Jodi were supposed to go to the mall to get fitted for her coronation gown at 1. Then, she’d head to football practice at 2:45 and chat with Diontae like she did every practice since they’d been dating for the last 3 months.  She would then head to her 3:00PM biology class – then lab. After that, she’d come home, shower, change, and head to the Quad for the Homecoming bar-b-q and yard fest.  As Miss Hillman-elect, she’d light the Homecoming torch – a tradition spanning more than 100 years.  She’d then meet up with her sorors at 11:00 that night to rehearse their step show routine, then head home at 1 to talk on the phone with Diontae until he started snoring on the phone. Then, she’d do a little homework and call it a night around 3.

But things were going left – and quick.

Message deleted. Next message:

“YO, TAMIKO. CALL ME BACK, NOW.  CALL ME BACK, TAMIKO.  I’M NOT MESSIN AROUND. CALL ME BACK.”

Tamiko cupped her hand over her mouth. It was Diontae.

Message deleted. Next message:  

“I’M NOT FUCKIN AROUND, TAMIKO! CALL ME BACK.”

Message deleted. Next message: 

Diontae’s voice came blaring over her speaker phone. Tamiko deleted the message.  By now, her pacing had taken her all the way to the bathroom on the other side of her apartment.  She raced back to her room to grab her computer.

Please plug-in power source.

“Dammit!” Tamiko screamed as she hurried back to the living room to grab her computer charger. She grabbed it, plugged it in, and connected it to her computer.  She listened to other messages.

“Hey, Girl.  Kiza tried it, girl. Oh she tried it.  You seen the Gazette? I’m just calling to make sure you’re alright.  Hit me back. This is Lo’Vita by the way. Bye, girl.”
 

That bitch?!” Tamiko said with disgust as she deleted the message.  She fumed with anger at the thought of Kiza Ross, the editor-in-chief of the Hillman Gazette, having something to do with whatever whirlwind was swirling around her.  Kiza and Tamiko’s relationship – solid at first – quickly deteriorated when Tamiko choose Kappa Delta Kappa over Kiza and Eta Zeta Beta.  The boundaries were drawn as friends were forced to choose one or the other after both girls “crossed the burning sands.”

Message deleted. Next message:

“Tamiko…Call me back. Please…I just need answers. Please call me back, bye.”

 It was Diontae…again. There was a hurt in his voice that did not exist in the previous two messages. Tamiko’s heart pounded against her chest.

Message deleted. Next message:

“Your lil secret is out.  I been knew it tho. Pound ‘Halloween Queen.’ Thanks for giving Hillman a Halloween  Homecoming they’ll never forget.”  Tamiko stared at her phone in confusion.  She pressed 4 to get more information on the call.  It was from a private number.

Tamiko placed her phone down and put her computer in her lap.  She logged onto Twitter, her mind racing.  There were so many things running through her mind that she could barely think straight.  Her emotions were so out of wack that she began to tremble.  Tamiko didn’t have to look too strenuous as the hashtag #HalloweenQueen was a trending topic in the Richmond area.

“Oh God,” Tamiko said before clicking on the link.  She closed her eyes, inhaled deeply, and held it. She exhaled slowly and opened her eyes.

Tamiko’s screams could be heard throughout the apartment building.

______________________________________________________________________________

Tuesday, October 30th 2012

“Care to explain this?” Dr. Davenport said as she handed Tamiko a manila envelope.  Tamiko set across from President Davenport in her office.  She was wearing a hoodie over her head and wide dark-rimmed sunglasses. She had not slept in the past 24 hours.  Since waking up the day before, her world had begun to fall apart minute by minute. She’d been suspended from her sorority indefinitely “pending further inquiry,” publicly scorned on social media, and disowned  by most of her friends all in the last day.

“What is this?” Tamiko asked without holding up her head.

“Open it and see,” Dr. Davenport demanded.  Tamiko reached across the large oak desk and took the envelope. She opened it. Dr. Davenport stood up.

“How long did you really think you could go on with this charade and no one would know?” She asked leaning against her desk, facing Tamiko.

Tamiko began searching through the contents of the folder.  Her transcripts from high school.  Her birth certificate. An old news paper clipping from when she won her school’s spelling bee – in the 5th grade. Tamiko fought back the tears as she came across her arrest record from Oakland- a record she thought she’d expunged years ago.

 “Did you really think that no one would find out the double life you’ve been living? Is that what you thought, Ta-mi-ko?”

Tamiko’s eyes met hers.  President Davenport was visibly upset. She had her arms crossed about her chest as she leaned against her desk, facing her.

“Oh, you’re not answering?” President Davenport asked as she fumed.  “Perhaps, I should call you by your real name.  Will you answer me then? Huh? Will you answer my questions if I take it there…Thomas?”

Tamiko had not her heard her real name since she’d left her parent’s home over a decade ago when she decided that she could no longer live a life that felt strange to her.  Her father, a Pastor and lifetime Hillman football fan, refused to accept Tamiko’s decision to live her life on her own terms. “God doesn’t make mistakes!” He roared as he threw her things out of the home.  Her mom, loving yet compliant, quietly gave her $100 and a calling card and drove her to a shelter for runaway teens.  Bouncing from place to place, Tamiko eventually ended up on Oakland with a “friend” she’d met over the internet. 

“The embarrassment you’ve caused this university.  The embarrassment you’ve brought to my sorority. The embarrassment you brought to that sacred crown that we almost placed on your damn head in front of all of Hillman – and look at you now, What do you possibly have to say for yourself?”

“I’m…I….how did you get a hold of this?” Tamiko managed to say.

“Still thinking about yourself? Girrrrrrl, you are something else!” Dr. Davenport yelled.  “I have alumni threatening to withhold their checks because of your little stunt!”

“This isn’t a stunt,” Tamiko spoke up in her own defense. “This is who I am.” 

“That ain’t what that birth certificate says, girl…or boy…or what the hell ever!” Dr. Davenport walked back around her desk and picked up the phone. “Caroline, draw up the discharge papers.”

“Discharge?” Tamiko asked. The tears could no longer hold themselves back.

“Yes, discharge,” Dr. Davenport repeated. “You lied all up and down your application to get into this university.  Your name, your age, your gotdamn gender! Everything on that application is a damn lie and now Hillman is the laughing stock of the state.  During Homecoming Week! And that poor Diontae! Did you even think about him? Prancing around campus with him on your arm and now look at him? What do you have to say for that? Have you even talked to the boy? Huh?”

“Yes,” Tamiko said under her breath.

“AND?!?” Dr. Davenport demanded, slamming her hand against her desk.

Tamiko slowly removed her sunglasses – revealing a dark ring around her left eye.  Her right eye had been swollen shut.

“Oh Good God,” Dr. Davenport reacted as she gasped, cupping her hand over her mouth.  She picked up the phone again.  “Caroline, send me over a suspension packet, instead and call campus police, please.”

“Please don’t, ” Tamiko pleaded. She wept, quietly at first, but soon grew uncontrollable.  Dr. Davenport grabbed a box of tissue from her desk and set beside her, handing her a tissue.

“Did Diontae do this to you?” Did he assault  you?” She asked.

Tamiko grabbed the tissue and dried her eyes. “I don’t want to put him through anything else, it’s been hell.”

Dr. Davenport sighed.  “I am not going to discharge you, Thomas,” Dr. Davenport said with contempt.  “You have been through enough. But, I think it is in your best interest if you take the rest of the semester off and stay off campus for a few months – until things die down.”

“No,” Tamiko said sternly.

“Excuse me? Say what now?” Dr. Davenport replied, agitation in her voice.

“That isn’t in my best interest,” Tamiko responded. “I graduate soon. I am Miss Hillman. I have a respn-“

“Oh honey, let me stop you right there, Miss Thang,” Dr. Davenport interrupted.  “There is no more Miss Hillman.  That absolutely cannot happen. It won‘t happen.  Not on my watch.”

“But I won that crown!” Tamiko shouted.  “I earned that crown!”

“And it was ALL based on LIES!” Dr. Davenport screamed.  “You better be lucky I’m even letting you stay enrolled.  But you have done this university enough harm as it is.  Do you know what would happen to this university if I allowed a man to be crowned Miss Hillman?”

“You’re not allowing a man to be crowned Miss Hillman,” Tamiko snapped back.  “You allowing me to serve the student body that elected me.”

“That didn’t elect you,” Dr. Davenport fired back. “They elected a woman who they thought was you. Honestly, they whole thing just turns my stomach.  And to think, I was around here calling you my soror and all of that jazz.  I’m all for the gays marrying and kissing in public but I wouldn’t be doing my job as a woman of the God if I didn’t put a stop to this madness.”

“You think you’re doing God’s work by being a bigot?” Tamiko asked.

“Oh, honey…” Dr. Davenport said, pointing her finger in Tamiko’s face. “You are really trying it.  Go see my assistant on your way out.  She will give you your suspension papers.  You will then have one hour to vacate campus.”

“But…” Tamiko mumbled fighting back the tears, “What about…my crown?”

Dr. Davenport clenched her teeth. “The crown of Miss Hillman will go to the 1st runner-up, an actual woman.”

“Dr. Davenport, please…” Tamiko pleaded.

“That’ll be all,” Dr. Davenport said coldly. “See yourself out.  My assistant will give you further instructions.

“But I-” Tamiko began.

“That. Will. Be. ALL!” Dr. Davenport screamed.

______________________________________________________________________________

Wednesday, October 31st, 2012 – Coronation Day

Tamiko fought to hold back the tears as she finished the last few touches of her make-up.  She was the only girl on the Homecoming court who was allowed to do her own make-up as the adviser knew she’d always do herself up befitting of a woman who would call herself the Queen of Hillman. She “pancaked” on her favorite foundation – an old make-up trick she learned from a good friend in Oakland while working as a barista to make ends meet.  She then did her mascara, giving herself the “smokey eye” look she grown to love on Beyonce. She managed to completely cover the black ring Diontae had put there in his fit of rage. Her right eye however, was so swollen, she could barely open it. She smiled at herself in the mirror as she thought back to the first time she saw “Bey” in concert, and the whole paycheck she blew to get the tickets.  She then applied a soft pink lip – a looked she’d saw Rihanna wearing in the last issue of Cosmopolitan Magazine. She pulled her hair back into a side ponytail and draped it across her shoulder.  

Tamiko walked over to her closet and pulled out her coronation dress she’d picked up just before the store closed last night.  She took the plastic off and laid it across the bed – admiring it for a moment before she picked up a lint brush and ran it across the light pink dress a few times.  With her back to the mirror, Tamiko stepped into the Dorothy Dandrige -inspired gown; a gown she’d designed and partially sewn herself from a picture her father gave her of the 1950’s movie queen when she was just 9 years old – and still identified as a boy.

“Now this is a real woman,” she remembers her dad telling her, having no clue that his son would grow to idolize being in a gown like that rather than being with a woman like that.  Tamiko stared at herself in the mirror – flawless make-up, perfect hair, impeccable gown; and nowhere to go.  Today, a particularly chilly day for – even for Halloween – was supposed to be the day she stood on stage in the Ruby Dee auditorium. Today was supposed to be the day where she would stand in front of a little more than 2,000 Hillmanites and be crowned the 101st Miss Hillman.
She stared in the mirror, into her eyes.  The tears could no longer contain themselves and they ran down her face.  Today, of all days, being alone was the last thing she wanted to be. 
She walked down the hallway, her dress rustling against itself with each step she took  She reached into a linen closet and pulled out a long white sheet.  She walked back over to her vanity and set down.  She tied the blanket into a slipknot and placed it on her desk.  She then got up, went into her closet, and pulled out a giant pink box with the word G I U S E P P I scribbled across it. Tamiko slid on the left heel first, then the right. The shoes had been a gift from her sorority for winning the coveted crown, a gift that a day earlier had demanded that she return.

Tamiko, now in her heels, stood on her vanity chair and lifted herself up to tie one end of the bed sheet around an exposed pipe on the ceiling, letting the slipknot dangle about.   She safely climbed back down. Grabbing her laptop, Tamiko positioned it on top of her vanity.   By now, the tears, had become so heavy that her mascara had run completely off of her face.  She logged onto her live stream account and hit record. It was an account that had grown in popularity over the years, peaking at nearly 2,000 subscribers earlier this year.   She used her account to discuss Greek life, relationships, and all types of topics with her sorors. This time however, she said nothing. Instead, Tamiko  reached into the drawer of her vanity and pulled out a pen and pad.  She scribbled a few words down on the pad::

Tamiko held up the paper in front of the camera as the tears streamed down her face.  She put the paper down and grabbed a few Kleenex, dabbing the runny make up and tears off her face.  She picked up her mascara brush and re-applied it.  Then, she took out her lip-stick and applied a coat to the bottom lip. Then the top.  She tore another piece of paper out of the pad, this time, and using her lipstick wrote the message:

Always Remember: Slay to the Very End!!!!

Tamiko held up the message in front of the camera and smiled.  She placed it down and slowly climbed up on top of the chair. She slid the sheet around her neck and let it rest there for a moment.  She closed her eyes and stood silently.  At that moment, and in that place, Tamiko was solemn.  For the first time in as long as she could remember, Tamiko found herself thinking about no one but herself.  In that moment, she was unconcerned with how she measured up to “real women.” She was unconcerned with how men would react to her when they found out she was born a man.  She was unconcerned about how her father felt about her.  She was unconcerned about graduation.  And Homecoming. And the dirty dishes she’d soon leave behind. Her overdue phone bill drifted out of her consciousness.  Instead, Tamiko concerned herself with the one thing that had eluded her all of her life – peace.  She closed her eyes and, in a one swift move,  kicked the chair out from under herself.  Her body jerked violently at first and after a few seconds, her movements slowed.

Her body then twitched slightly. Then finally, still.

Stay with me…I promise it’ll be worth it…Part IV coming soon! 

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