Simon’s Splinter by James Fant

jamesfantbooks:

Check out this review of my new novel, SIMON’S SPLINTER.

Originally posted on valerietalksbooks:

simon      Simon’s Splinter is an intriguing title, and it only begins to hint at the inspiring fantasy that awaits readers of the book.

It’s a love story with a decidedly unique twist. Owen Graham (known as Graham) and his girlfriend Aisha have been in a relationship for 5 years and are living together. Graham’s not in favor of marriage because he’s seen too many end unhappily. He’s also not a religious man, as opposed to Aisha, whose faith is strong. Aisha has insisted all along that she’s fine with their differences…until now.

When members of her family come to visit, she confides in her grandmother Jaddah that she really does want more – she wants marriage and quite likely children, as well. Jaddah reveals a powerful family secret about who the family is descended from. It revolves around an item she’s brought with her – a wooden splinter encased in…

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COED _ Chapter 30 (My NaNoWriMo Novel)

Chapter 30

He said…

We were back in the shop and today’s topic was that Black Friday video that went viral, the one where those folks were fighting over flat screen TVs.

“My thing is this,” Olivia said. “Why did they only put ten TVs out when there were three hundred people outside standing in line?”

“And then they had cameras flashing and video recorders rolling when the people stormed the store,” Stacy said. “It’s like they expected it.”

“They knew what they were doing,” Teddy said. “It’s sad, too. Like people don’t value their time, stress level, or safety over saving a few pennies.”

Sade blew everyone away with this. “Think about the hourly wage and how long some of those people were standing in line. Some of them were in tents for twelve hours and that’s overtime. So by the time they stood in line, freezing, they could have been doing something productive—hustling or something—to get enough money for three of those TVs at regular price.”

That’s my girl. That’s my baby. She always breaks it down so simply, yet at the same time, so philosophically. That’s what I love about her, one of the things I love about her at least.

“If you ask Calvin Bass, Black Friday Shopping is ridiculous,” Calvin Bass said, true to form, speaking of himself in the third person. “They had those people looking like animals on that video. Pulling, and tugging, and scratching at each other.”

“Hey Calvin,” I said, “where’d you get that scratch on your face?”

“Man, this woman was fighting me over one of those TVs on Black Friday and scratched my face.”

We all laughed. Then I asked him, “But did you get the TV?”

“Oh yes,” he replied. “You know Calvin got the TV.”

We laughed some more. I was happy that Sade stayed around. It would have broken my heart if she left me. Amid all the laughter and going back and forth, she caught my eye, gave me this sexy look, and then stuck her right index finger into the hole she made with her curved left fingers and thumb. I returned the gesture; however, I stuck all four of my right fingers into the hole.

“You two are so nasty,” Olivia said. “Get a room already.”

“They already have a room,” Calvin said. “I heard he’s hittin’ it in the office.”

“Not on the desk,” Olivia said. “I had my lunch on Sade’s desk the other day.”

“Well you probably got love juice all over your lunch then,” Calvin said.

Everyone in the shop had a good long laugh at that joke. Sade and I joined in the laughter, even though Calvin was right about the desk.

That’s how we do it at CoEd. We give you more than a haircut and a shave, or a perm or some braids. We give you colorful conversation. We promote joy and laughter. And if you play your cards right, you just might meet your spouse in our shop. Look at me. I meet my wife right here at this shop, where men connect with women, where keys go into locks and open doors to life.

The End

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COED _ Chapter 29 (My NaNoWriMo Novel)

Chapter 29

She said…

Ken wanted to make love to me tonight; I agreed, but told him to skip the foreplay, the wine and dine, in fact, skip the New Edition, Keith Sweat, LeVert bedroom mix. I told him to turn off the lights, take off his clothes, climb into bed and just do me. I didn’t even take off my night-shirt and I simply slid my panties to the side. I just needed the brother to scratch my itch and be done with it. Five minutes after he entered, he was exiting. Huffing and puffing. Sweating. And I was mildly satisfied.

Afterwards, we lay there in the dark. Ken told me that he loved me and that he was glad that we were back together. I didn’t reply. I believe I just sucked my teeth softly. He rolled on his side. I knew this because I could feel his chest against my shoulders and smell his breath. “What are you thinking?” he asked.

“I’m thinking we’re done.”

“What?”

“Ken, you need to go back to Oakland to be a part of your son’s life.”

“But I love you.”

“I’m sure you do. However, you’ve created a child with Ursula, an innocent child. That boy deserves a man who’ll be a permanent fixture in his life. He doesn’t need some deadbeat that will drop by and then be on the road again for weeks on end.”

“I don’t love Ursula.”

“You don’t have to. You felt something for her to have unprotected sex with her, unless the condom broke. Did the condom break, Ken?”

“There was no condom.”

Ken and I always used condoms. He’d never touched the inside of me, skin to skin. That’s something he shared with Ursula. And if he had that much of a connection with her, he should at least go out to Oakland to see if they could make something work for the boy’s sake. If they couldn’t, then at least he would be there.

“What about you and me?” he asked.

“There is no you and me, not anymore.”

He lay there in the dark for a few seconds and I had no idea what he would do. Cry. Beg me to stay. But he surprised me when he said, “Aw, that’s dirty. You just gon’ have sex with a brother and then drop him just like that.”

“Just like that,” I replied with a laugh.

We both laughed. Had a real good laugh. And then there was quiet. Ken, being the pretty predictable person he is, gets really sleepy after he ejaculates. He hadn’t fallen asleep yet. I could tell because he wasn’t snoring loudly enough to knock the framed pictures off the wall. That left me to my thoughts. It didn’t surprise me at all that I thought about Trap. I thought about what he’d said to me before we left the shop. He loved me. I also thought about the way he looked at me after I told him I was staying the night with Ken. It looked like he’d lost his best friend, like he’d lost me. He hadn’t, though. I would always be his best friend. I didn’t know this at the time, but Trap would actually be my best friend forever—my BFF. But I had to tie up loose ends first.

Also, I guess I also had to come to terms with fixing myself. I believe this with all of my heart: you should never go into a relationship when you aren’t whole. How can you give someone else all of your heart when it’s broken, when a parts of it is missing? Trap wanted me to come home with him. I know that. It hurt him that I didn’t. But if I was ever going to give him all of my heart, I had to make sure that it was mended, or at the very least, well on its way to being healed completely.

“I’m going to do it,” I said.

“Do what?” Ken replied, groggily.

“Get my own place. Live by myself.”

“Good for you,” Ken replied. Then he started snoring loudly enough to knock the framed pictures off the wall.

***

I had just moved into my own place and this time, I was not getting screwed. I went with a new moving company who quoted me a fair price for the move. I was pleasantly surprised that these movers came in under budget. With this change of address, I didn’t have a huge argument with my boyfriend Ken because he was not my boyfriend anymore. He was off in Oakland trying to make things work with Ursula or maybe not trying to work things out with Ursula. At any rate, he was being a daddy to his son and that was cool. He wasn’t here with me. That was even better.

Trap came over to bring me a housewarming gift. It was a framed copy of Gordon Park’s American Gothic—the photo of a woman holding a broom and mop with the American flag as a backdrop.

“Wow, Trap. This must’ve cost a grip,” I said.

“Anything for you.”

“Anything for you,” I mocked. “Come in here, boy.”

I gave Trap the grand tour of my townhouse. Told him about my decorative plans. “I’m going to have photos in every room. They give the house this energy, you know?”

“You and your Gordon Parks. But let me ask you something. How are we going to marry your eclectic style with my traditional style when we tie the knot and move in together?”

“I don’t know,” I replied. “We’ll have to come to some common ground, I guess.”

You should’ve seen Trap’s smile after my reply. Because I didn’t say, how do you know you and I are going to get married or anything like that. I confirmed his statement because deep down in my heart, I always knew it would happen.

The heart knows, somehow, what the mind can’t see just yet. I met Trap and on the surface I found him attractive. But we decided mutually to put up this fake wall between us. It allowed us to get to know each other. And over the years, we became close. We knew secrets about each other. But each of us held back one important secret. Trap held back his secret of spousal abuse—his mother and father, him and Kelly. And I’d held back my secret. It was time to share my secret with my friend. My best friend.

“Trap?”

“Yes?”

“I was molested as a child.”

“Excuse me?”

“I was three or four, I guess. My mother had this boyfriend that worked third-shift. So he was the perfect babysitter while my mother worked first. I use that word perfect very loosely. While my mother was off working in the wonderful world of customer service, her boyfriend, the man she trusted and loved, was at her apartment doing very inappropriate things with her four-year-old daughter.”

Trap was speechless, as I thought he would be. How do you respond to something like that, especially out of the blue? He’d just walked into my new townhome and I was telling him about how my mother’s boyfriend used to finger me. Trap couldn’t tell me that he knows how I feel. Even if someone used to finger him when he was a child, he could never know exactly how I feel about it. Me? This is how I feel about it. I walled the entire experience off. Put it somewhere in the far corners of my mind. Never really thought about it until I was forced with having to live alone. I kept thinking about that monster on the outside of my door. He had a voice. He sounded like the man my Nanna Mosley beat with a frying pan before she took me from my mother. She beat that man in his face. Blacked his eye. Knocked out a few of his teeth. Put him in the hospital, actually. Then she took me away and dared my mother to try to take me back. She didn’t care about the Sherriff. She didn’t care about DSS or Child Services. All she cared about was protecting me.

“She prayed that I’d never remember the bad times,” I said. “She used to pray that God protect my mind. She always asked Him for that. I never connected the dots. But now, I remember. Not everything, mind you; I guess don’t want to remember everything. But I remember enough. Enough to know why I was scared to live alone.”

“Wow,” Trap said. “I—I don’t know what to say.”

I shrugged. “There’s nothing you can say, Travis. Just be there for me. Like I’m going to be here for you.”

I think things were silent between us for the next hour or so. I was finishing dinner and Trap was digesting what I’d just told him, no doubt. Finally, after all I’d told him, after all he’d told me, he said, “You called me by my name. I don’t think you’ve ever called me by my name before. I like the way it sounds coming off your lips.”

“Travis,” I said, slow and seductively. “Ooh, Travis.”

“Yeah, I like that.”

“Travis! Take me Travis!” We both laughed. But he did pull me into his embrace. And we did kiss. And Travis, Travis, Ooh Travis, did that kiss feel good!

I treated him to dinner that night. Then we watched old episodes of A Different World, the ones where Whitley Gilbert and Dwayne Wayne finally got together. That sweet tension that everyone talked about at school on Friday mornings. Oh yes, we talked about Whitley and Dwayne. I always knew they would get together. It made to much sense. Likewise, I guess I always knew that Trap and I would get together. It made too much sense.

At evening’s end, I showed Trap to the door. Told him that I’d see him at the shop tomorrow. We kissed again. It got pretty heavy this time and I honestly wanted more. But we both knew that we had to wait. Wait until the perfect time. We were both cool with that because we knew we were together now. And a few days, or weeks, or months had nothing on forever.

I closed the door and I was all alone. Living all alone, finally. So I decided to walk around the house wearing only my bra and panties. Then I got good and bold and I just lounged naked, let my breast flop. Whoever said that was a fun thing to do, knew exactly what they were talking about. Walking around the house butt naked is not only fun; it’s liberating. So there I was, liberated, and playing my Tupac Collection as loud as I wanted. As a matter of fact, I danced in my living room, in the nude and I loved every minute of it. I did all the things a bachelorette should do living alone, except for leaving clothes in the middle of the floor. That’s just nasty.

I hope you enjoyed today’s chapter of my NaNoWriMo novel, CoEd. Please check out my new novel, SIMON’S SPLINTER available now! http://www.amazon.com/Simons-Splinter-James-Fant-ebook/dp/B00Q7JF00S/

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COED _ Chapter 28 (My NaNoWriMo Novel)

Chapter 28

He said…

I was a hot head. I had a quick temper. Mean spirited. Evil. The devil just like my daddy. That’s some of the things I heard as a boy. But the people that said it weren’t trying to be mean; they were complementing me. Giving me a pat on the back because I didn’t take no junk—ever. It took very little for me to fight. A dude could look at me the wrong way and Boom! I’d hit him dead in his face. I used to get suspended all the time. Could never ride the bus. Win, lose or draw, I lived to fight. I craved it. Needed the drama. But I couldn’t understand why.

My father had a barbeque one day and invited all his homeboys and their old ladies. There was this big dude that lived across the street from us. Can’t even remember his name right now. But my father told me to go over there and slap him. I was cool with that because I never liked the way the dude looked at me. I went over there and smacked the guy and this guy just started crying. Balled up on the ground. You think I cared? Not at all. I commenced to stomping him. So somebody came out his house—his uncle, his dad, I didn’t know. The man kicked me off of his son. The next thing I knew, my dad was all over this dude and blood was everywhere. We were in the street fighting like animals. My father’s friends just laughed and enjoyed the show.

After it was over, all my father’s friends were congratulating me like I’d just won the title or something. My dad was smiling at me like he was proud. But I could’ve sworn I saw a tear in his eye. I didn’t know this at the time but that tear did not display his pride. Somberness could be a better way to describe his appearance. Amid the laughter of his friends, the clang of beer bottles, the refer clouds that polluted the air, there was sadness. My father was sad. I was sad. Why were we sad?

They called my dad Tick Tick because he was a time bomb. They called me Little Tick because I was just as unpredictable. Sometimes I would think about not being here. That’s what I called it—not being here. I would never say that I wanted to kill myself because that would be crazy. But I’d be up one minute and down the next. I couldn’t take the variation anymore. It was too much for my little mind to handle. I believe it was the day that I had found my dad’s pistol that my mother knew she had to do something.

She shrieked when she walked into their bedroom and saw me sitting on my father’s side of the bed. I had pulled his .38 from between the mattress and the box spring. It was loaded. It was always loaded. And I was sitting there. Looking down its barrel. And I wasn’t afraid at all until I heard my mother scream. She smacked the gun out of my hand and pulled my head against her breast. She held me like that for hours seemed like. I could barely breathe and I was thinking this is even better. It wouldn’t be suicide now if my mother suffocated me with her bosom. Finally, my mother took me to this doctor where they diagnosed me as bipolar. I think she already knew it. She knew it because my father was bipolar. She was sitting on the sidelines looking at me become the same monster my father was and finally, amid the fear and trepidation, she bravely took me somewhere to get some help.

“Nothing’s wrong with that boy,” my father would argue. “You pumping him with all this medication, wasting money. He’s just like his daddy. That don’t mean he’s sick!”

My father was in denial. My mother was tired of being there with him. She was so brave to do something about it, so courageous to go out and find me some help. I started loving more after that because after my meds, I didn’t feel so up and down anymore. I didn’t want to kill myself anymore and that was good. It’s a bummer, wanting to kill yourself.

My mother was a real fighter. She was small, weak, yet a thousand times more valiant than my father. He was a coward. Instead of owning up to his illness, he lashed out at my mother. He whipped her behind even more after she took me to the doctors. One night he beat her so bad that he put her in the hospital. A broken jaw. A few broken ribs. So much internal bleeding the doctors didn’t think she’d make it. And when Ahmad and I would visit her in the hospital, I’d look at her with awe. She took that punishment for me. All those scars so she could save my life. I loved her so much after that. I didn’t really hate my father yet.

My father was sentenced to ten years in prison. He did them all, too. My mother was never beaten again but funny thing happened when my father was in jail. My mother found out she had breast cancer. Can you believe that? She survived this monster just to find out she was dying from cancer. They let my father come to the funeral, in his handcuffs and shackles. And this dude had the nerve to cry. I couldn’t take it. I snapped. Charged for him. Ahmad had to pin me to the floor to stop me from choking him to death.

To me, this beautiful woman should’ve lived for hundreds of years. My father would be free in a couple of years. Alive. And not only did I feel like it should’ve been him in the casket. I wanted to be the man to put him in there.

I told Sade all of this and her entire demeanor changed. Her eyes softened. She didn’t look half as hateful as she did before and I was grateful for that. But I still hadn’t gotten to the part about her, about what any of that had to do with her. So I told her about Kelly. You see, Kelly was the absolute wrong person for a man like me to marry. She was ghetto and I’m not trying to be mean when I say that. She loved drama. Loved keeping stuff stirred up. Loved to argue and fight. But I was cool, right? I’m on my meds. I can take it.

One night we were arguing about something. I guess we were about two hours into the argument and I decided I’d had enough. “I’m leaving,” I said.

She told me, “No you’re not.”

“Let go of my arm, Kelly.” She was digging her nails deep into my flesh. I tore away and she slapped me in the back of my head. I couldn’t find my keys for nothing. I’m searching for my keys while this crazy woman is all over me, scratching me, kicking me, beating me with her closed fist. And she wants me to stay. You see how crazy that is? She was beating me because she didn’t want me to leave? Where is the logic in that? “What did you do with my keys?” I asked her.

“You’re not going anywhere!”

I pushed her off of me and she landed on the floor. Why in the world did I do that?

She ran off to the kitchen and I was still trying to find my car keys. Finally, I said “Screw it!” I decided I’d just walk and Kelly came at me with a butcher knife and sliced my forearm.

“Girl! Are you crazy?”

“I told you that you aren’t leaving me!”

That’s when I punched her in the jaw. Knocked her to the floor. Got on top of her and started beating her in the face. I lost it. Forgot who I was. Forgot where I was. Forgot who was in the house.

“Daddy! Stop! You’re gonna kill Mommy!”

My daughter came out of her bedroom in her nightgown. Tears in her eyes. She’s screaming at me but too scared to come near us. Blood on the floor. My forearm split open. Kelly’s lip busted. Her hair wild.

“Come here, baby,” I said to Elise. I went over to her. Wrapped her in my arms. Got blood all over her.

I decided it was over for Kelly and me after that. Because in spite of our daughter seeing us fight, in spite of Kelly trying to kill me with a butcher knife and me beating her in the face, Kelly still wanted to be with me. “This was nothing,” she said to me. “My mother and father went through worse.” I was sitting there, dumbfounded. Like, woman! Don’t you get it? This ain’t normal.

“What are you going to do?” Kelly asked, “find another woman that won’t fight you? We all fight. Couples argue and fight! It’s normal. It’s not normal to go through a relationship without arguing.”

I was packing my things that day and I’ll never forget it. Kelly said to me, “Fighting is a part of being in love.” That’s when I knew it was over between us. Because she was blind to my needs. I needed normal. What my mother and father went through, what her mother and father went through, weren’t normal.

But after that fight with Kelly, I realized something that shook me to the core. I attacked her while I was taking my medication. If that was true, my meds wouldn’t keep me out of trouble. And believe me; I had no illusions. I knew that disagreements were a part of relationships. But I wondered if I could handle even peaceful disagreements. So after Kelly, I resolved to play the field. You can’t have an argument with a woman if all you’re doing is having sex and occasionally going to dinner and a movie.

“So you cheated on me,” Sade said, “because you thought that we’d eventually get into an altercation.”

“Doesn’t every couple?”

Sade bowed and shook her head. She sighed a few times and then told me, “You’re broken.”

“I guess so.”

“All you had to do was tell me that you weren’t ready for a serious relationship. All you had to do was tell me that you were broken. But instead, you broke my heart.”

Hindsight was standing in the corner. I could see him right over Sade’s shoulder. He was saying to me, “I tried to tell you.” The thing is, Hindsight, you didn’t try to tell me until after I did it. Why didn’t you tell me before I slept with Carissa?

“Because showing you your error before you make it is Foresight’s job. But unfortunately, Foresight is blind as a bat.”

Sade took my hand in hers. Her palms were warm and I felt her love for me seeping through her skin. Her eyes weren’t playing around. They were fixed on me and there was hope in them. Hope for us, maybe? I didn’t know. I wasn’t sure. All I knew is I was glad that we were speaking again.

“Trap, not every couple is like your parents, or Kelly’s parents, or like you and Kelly were. I believe that abusive relationships are the exception and not the rule. The rule is we may not always agree, but we can always be agreeable.”

“You said we, Sade. Does that mean that there’s hope for us?”

She looked away. Released my hands.

“Words can’t express how sorry I am for what I did,” I said. “I do love you. That hasn’t changed.”

“I love you, too,” she said. “But I guess I’m a little broken as well.”

“So what does that mean for us?”

“It means that maybe two broken people shouldn’t be together until they’re fixed.”

I could respect that. I needed to focus on me. But I told Sade that as I focused on me, my end goal, my light at the end of the tunnel, was to be a good man for Sade Styles. And for that she gave me her smile. For now, her smile was enough.

“I don’t want you to leave CoEd,” I said.

“I know,” she replied. “You wouldn’t know what to do without me.”

I walked Sade to her car and told her goodnight. But before she drove away I asked her for a hug. She obliged. Our bodies fit. The energy was real and she knew it. The essence of Trap and Sade was strong, strong enough to establish a business, strong enough to build and nourish a community.

I asked her where she was staying the night and she said…

“I’m staying with Ken.” She looked up into my eyes and I hoped that she couldn’t see the hurt. “I hope you understand.”

I didn’t understand. But I guess I had to respect it.

 

 

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COED _ Chapter 27 (My NaNoWriMo Novel)

Chapter 27

She said…

I’m going to miss being at the shop: the whiz of clippers, the smell of perm chemicals, the conversations. I guess I’ll miss Trap as well. We haven’t really said much since he cheated on me. He’s tried but, dang right, I’m giving him the cold shoulder. I don’t know why guys expect, after they’ve wronged us in some way, that we’re going to just bounce back and be best buds again, jump right back in the sandbox and let you get us dirty again. These things take time. I’ll speak for myself. These things take time with me.

I’m leaving CoEd. I feel it’s the best move right now because I can’t go on working around Trap. It’s not the same anymore. We used to have a comradery that was difficult to put into words. We weren’t dating but we were hella close. We weren’t pretending to be play brother and sister, didn’t pretend to be play cousins. The relationships of play brother and sister and play cousin are just façade associations that create this boundary that allows a woman to keep a man near and dear to her heart without getting emotionally and physically involved. I guess it’s cool to have that opposite sex around you and know that the imaginary line will never be crossed and that you’ll never have to worry about your heart being broken. That’s the goal anyway, right? Your play brother or play cousin can be that man that you talk to about the actual man that you’re emotionally and physically involved with. Perhaps a counsel of sorts because he’s a man. Who better to know the inner workings of Manville than one of its inhabitants?

The play relationship has many benefits but it is also fraught with unavoidable pitfalls. I truly believe that there is this energy that women and men emit, opposite and attractive. Just like wild animals, we’re not far from our primitive roots. I’m not that far from a doe spreading her estrous on the bark of a tree and Trap isn’t that far off from a buck coming by and sniffing the whiff. The play relationship says those things aren’t done just because there’s no physical attraction or because we have put up these invisible borders that neither of us will cross. That is the agreement we had. But while our mouths are saying one thing, our primitive hearts were still spreading and sniffing scents that we couldn’t help but emit.

With Trap and me, it was worse than a play relationship because we never agreed to such a thing. In fact, in the back of our minds we left that door open. Ladies and gentlemen, here’s the blatant and honest truth: my hooking up with Trap was bound to happen. There was never a wall, invisible or otherwise. We walked around each other butt naked, just daring each other to come and get a taste. And our moving in together, I admit now, was a set up from the get up! We both knew we’d end up in bed together because that’s what we both wanted. We just didn’t want to admit it.

But if we never learn from our mistakes, we never grow. It was a mistake to buy the shop with Trap. It was a mistake to move in with him. It was obviously a mistake falling in love with him. And now it was time to correct my mistakes.

We were closing up and Trap was in the office. Sulking, because I hadn’t spoken to him all day, even though he tried on several occasions to get my attention. He sighed when I entered the room and asked, “So how long are you going to just dog me like this?”

I said nothing to him and that caused him to shake his head in disgust. I guess it was time to let the brother off the hook. Besides, I needed to tell Trap that I was leaving.

“Why’d you tell Teddy about our towel incident?” I asked.

“You’re speaking to me now?”

“Didn’t I just ask you a question? Now what’s up with this ‘you had me at the Terry cloth towel’ business?”

“Sade, I was just trying to find some way to break through your defenses. We need to have a conversation and for that to happen, you need to be speaking to me.”

“Okay,” I said. “We can have this conversation. Besides, there’s something I need to tell you.”

“Well go ahead,” he said. “Ladies first.”

No Trap. If I started the conversation, I would also by default be ending it. Because my part of the conversation, besides listening to whatever cooked up excuse Trap had for cheating on me, was to tell him that I was leaving.

“You’d better go first,” I said.

He looked nervous, like he wasn’t really prepared. It’s easy, Trap, I thought. Just tell me you’re stupid and then I’ll tell you I know that and then I’ll tell you that I’m leaving.

“You see, Sade, it’s like this.” He held up his right index finger and then curled his left fingers until his left middle and ring finger met the tip of his curled thumb. Then this clown stuck his index finger in his hand hole and started moving it in and out. I gotta tell you; I did not see that coming. “Well with me and you,” he said, “it’s more like this.” Then the boy bundled the four of his right fingers and put them into what I assumed was my hole. Now my mouth was wide open. What was he trying to say?

“Okay, Trap,” I put my hand over his to stop the hand porn thingy that was going on.

“No, Sade. I’m nervous.” He pulled his hands from mine and the brother started doing a sock puppet show. “I was trying to talk to you all day,” he motioned his right hand as if it were a mouth moving a mile a minute, “and you were like this,” he clamped his left hand tightly. I wondered if next he was going to play rock paper scissors with himself.

“Trap, I’m leaving.”

“What?” He dropped his hands.

“The shop. I’ve gotta go. This, you and me being together, ain’t happening.”

“Why?”

Are you kidding me right now? This boy had the nerve to ask me why I was leaving. Of all the stupid one word sentences, that one out of his mouth took the cake.

“We hadn’t been official for one day and you cheated on me, Trap. And if that isn’t bad enough, now that we’ve flamed out I feel I have nowhere else to go and nowhere else to turn. I slept here in the shop the night before and was about to do it again last night until Ken called me and invited me to sleep at his house. And like a fool, I did it. I slept in that creep’s house because for some strange reason I’m afraid to live alone. I can’t move back in your house. I can’t find a roommate for some strange reason. It’s like all the roommates in Greenville County decided to pair up on the day I needed one. So yeah, I’m living with Ken, a man I detest probably more than you. And it’s all your fault. If you knew you couldn’t be faithful, why didn’t you just tell me off the rip? Why’d you have to break my heart?”

“Sade, I cheated on you because I didn’t want to hurt you.”

“Newsflash, dumbo! You did hurt me.”

“But I never got the chance to hit you.”

Hit me?

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COED _ Chapter 26 (My NaNoWriMo Novel)

Chapter 26

He said…

Brothers, if you have made it through life with your woman and she has never ignored you and given you the silent treatment, God bless you and may Heaven smile upon you. You’re doing something right. You deserve a parade with confetti and fanfare. You’ve earned yourself a medal. Something special because you are a phenomenal human being.

See, the silent treatment is what women do to us when we’re on their bad side. They act like we aren’t in the room. Check that—they act like we don’t exist, never existed. All normal men know what I’m talking about. If you’re an average dope, then you’ve been there. You’ve walked into the house, said “Honey, I’m home,” and your woman just looked at you and replied with absolutely nothing. If she was real nasty about it, she might’ve smiled. The smile is fake, fellas. Don’t fall for it. She’s only baiting you. Making you think she might speak to you finally. Heck, she might even give you some cut. You feel all good about yourself, bopping through the house singing Back in Stride Again. And just when you think your time in solitaire confinement is over, she slams that little slit closed and puts you right back in the dark. She has you screaming and scratching at the floor like Denzel Washington when he played Malcom Little in X. “What He ever do for me, Chappy? Huh? He ever come see about me? Arrggh! Arrggh!” Finally, after you’ve been in the hole for days and your drawers are sticking to your backside, she’ll open that large metal door and ask you to recite the numbers on your prison uniform. And you’ll recite those numbers. You couldn’t stand another minute in that darkness. Then, she’ll pull you outta the box and drag you to the shower. You’re a grown man still being put on punishment. You think punishment stops when you turn eighteen. Nah, bruh. They have timeout for grown men, too.

Now here’s the silent treatment I can’t stand: the kind where your woman is silent to you and only you. She’ll caw and cackle with everyone else but you. As a matter of fact, she’ll caw and cackle way louder than usual just because she wants to emphasize the fact that she is not talking to you. In addition, she wants you to hear—loud and clear—all of that good conversation you’re missing out on because you’re in the dog house—the hole. Because she knows you’re starving for her words. Your famished ears are crying out for her verbal affections. That’s the type of silence Sade gave me that morning in the shop. The silent but deadly kinda silent treatment. She was yapping it up with Olivia, Stacy, Teddy, all the customers. But she just looked at me like she could see straight through me. I told her good morning when she came in and she just cracked a semi-smile and kept on walking to the office to drop off her satchel. I said, “Sade, we need to talk,” and she brushed past me like I wasn’t even there. She had me wondering if I was there. So much so that I said, “Now let’s see. I said hello to her and she didn’t respond. I told her that I needed to talk to her and she kept right on walking as if I wasn’t talking to her. True, she didn’t speak to me this morning. But hold up a minute. Did anybody else speak to me this morning?” I was standing there in my office talking to myself, trying to connect the dots, thinking it through like Bruce Willis in the Sixth Sense. “Am I really dead? Did Mr. Coleman kill me this morning after I gave him a shave?”

“Why are you just standing there in the middle of the hallway, Trap?” Teddy asked.

“Oh good,” I said, “I’m not a ghost.”

Teddy laughed. “Sade not speaking to you, huh? What you do to make her mad already?”

“You don’t wanna know. Look, I need a favor.”

“Say the word, boss.”

“I need you to get a message to Sade for me. ‘Cause she isn’t checking for me.”

“What did you do?”

“Teddy…”

“Okay, boss. What do you want me to tell her?”

“Tell her that she had me at the Terry cloth towel.”

“She had you at the Terry cloth?”

“Yeah,” I interrupted. I had already told him more than I should have. “And I need her to hear me out.”

“Okay. Terry cloth. Hear you out. I got it.”

“Good.”

Teddy walked over to Sade’s chair and worked his magic, I guess. He whispered my message into her ear. She looked over at my direction and giggled. Then she said a few words to Teddy, looked back at me and smiled. That made me feel good. Had me bouncing. I was back in stride.

So I walked over to Sade’s chair because she gave me the signal. The barricade was down, you know? Everything was peace. I flashed my smile, and I say, “Can we get together over lunch, then? Talk about it?”

No lie; Sade looked me up and down, looked at her client and said, “Is he talking to you?”

The client said, “Oops!” and put her hand over her mouth the way women do when a man’s face is cracked and lying on the ground. Then Sade said “Anyway” and went back to her client’s hair. The smile. The smile will get you every time.

I picked my face up from the ground and headed back to my side of the shop. The men’s side.

CoEd.

Men on one side, women on the other, but everyone together. It was an awesome idea. Mr. Coleman laid it out plainly. He was a little overt with that index finger and hole bit. But it made perfect sense. I could see that now. The life of this shop and the life of our friendship hinged on me getting Sade to drop her silent treatment. But to release that life, I had to find some way to put my key in Sade’s lock.

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COED _ Chapter 25 (My NaNoWriMo Novel)

Chapter 25

She said…

I stayed at Ken’s house last night and I must say it was an adventure in truth. First of all, he made breakfast. At one in the morning, the man made omelets. And I don’t mean an scrambled egg folded over a slice of cheese. I mean, the man threw jalapenos, spinach and onions in the fryer, made those vegetables sizzle and fill the house with this heavenly aroma. And then he whisked eggs in a porcelain bowl. He whisked as if he were a professional, holding the bottom of the bowl in his palm as he powerfully—but gently at the same time—worked the whisk through this egg, milk and vanilla mixture. His hand rotated at the speed of light. He poured the mix into the fryer over the veggies. Grabbed the fryer’s handle, whipped it a few times and threw the layer of egg and veggies into the air. And get this; he actually caught the omelet with the frying pan. I was ready for us to have a good laugh when the omelet hit the floor. But no. The man was a magician as well as a liar. He moved  like he a chef. Was he a chef? He was a cheat, living a double life in Oakland with Ursula and their son. Let me find out the man also was a master chef at some restaurant there.

Anyway, his plating was superb. He folded the omelet like it was a towel. How did he do that with all of those peppers, onions, mushrooms, etc? I’ve tried my darndest to make omelets like that and have sorely failed. But Ken’s omelet was a thing of beauty. Folded neatly. A smoking, yellow Terry cloth, speckled with reds, whites and greens. The thing looked like I could unfold it, lay Ken back, put it across his face and then give him a real good shave.

A shave? With a straight razor? I had to put that thought away because me holding a straight razor around Ken was not a good idea. He’d do something stupid, like talk, and I’d slice his jugular with the business end of the blade. I know that would be a dirty thing to do, considering the man just whipped up breakfast. The cops would ask why I sliced his throat and I would tell them, “Because he lied to me.”

The cop would arrest me for sure. But before she did, she’d ask, “Why was there egg on his face?”

“Duh,” I’d reply, “He did something stupid.” I’d laugh then. “Egg on his face? Did something stupid? You get it?”

“I get it,” the lady cop would say. And then we’d both have a real good laugh at the expense of stupid men. “You’re free to go,” she’d say.

“Why thank you,” I’d reply.

It wouldn’t go down like that. But you can’t blame a girl for dreaming.

Ken and I were eating and in between bites he explained everything about Ursula.

“She’s this crazy chick that works at a truck stop in Oakland. A “behind the counter girl”, rings up the gas and stuff. Anyway, at most between us (or as far as I was concerned) was hi and bye. She knew I had a girlfriend. I told her that from the jump. But this girl is persistent. A stalker, really. She called my cell one day and told me she had a son and the boy was mine. I told her to stop calling me and that boy couldn’t be mine because we hadn’t even had sex. But she’s all in my face when I go to the truck stop, you know? And then I was at her counter one day ringing up and forgot my gas card. I run back out to my truck to get it and left my phone on the counter. I guess that’s when she got your number and called you. And that’s what happened.”

Ken.

Come on now, Ken.

He’s looking at me as if I bought all that horse manure he just tried to sell. Let me break it down line by line so you’ll understand how the lie just doesn’t hold up in court, how the hypothesis is easily disproved.

At most between Ursula and me was hi and bye.” This is a lie. At some point, she had Ken’s phone long enough to find out about my living situation with Trap. How does that work if all you do is see the person, smile and wave, and go on about your business? Ohhhh! You left your phone on the counter. I get it. And Ursula is bionic. I can see her now—scrolling through your phone at lightning speed, her beady little eyes zipping back and forth as she downloaded all of your pertinent information in about two minutes. Less than that, because you walk all fast. You couldn’t have been out at your truck that long looking for the gas card.

“She knew I had a girlfriend from the jump.” How would she know that you had a girlfriend, Ken, if all you said was hi and bye? She should know absolutely nothing about you, Ken, except that you drive a big rig and you have the ability to say “hi” and “bye.” But she knew you had a girlfriend? I say she didn’t know. But the reason Ken lied about this is because he was trying to establish that he was upfront with Ursula in the beginning. But don’t you see how he has twisted himself up in his own lie? If you barely know someone, it doesn’t matter if you’re upfront, up behind, down front or down behind with them. You barely know them. What Ken was trying to do was establish that Ursula was crazy. I don’t doubt that she is—just as crazy as I am, I guess. But the brother is assassinating her character upfront, to establish his innocence. Ursula is this crazy, bionic chick that can’t take no for an answer, knows he has a girlfriend and doesn’t care, and is willing to use her speed of light reading ability to gather all the dirt on him she needs.

“She’s persistent. A stalker. She called my cell one day.” Ding! Ding! Ding! How did she call you, Ken, if you didn’t at some point giver her your number. You see, the number on Ken’s truck goes to his answering service, which then routes those calls to his dispatching service. No one calls his personal cell unless they know him personally. And if she was persistent, a stalker, why did Ken spend hours talking to her? I set up Ken’s phone plan. He liked my plan, loved the money I saved. Said he wanted to save money, too. Asked me to put him on my plan. I did. He never realized that I could check the call logs since it was under my account. I did that after my chat with Ursula. An hour and a half. Two hours. Thirty minutes. Three hour conversations. Really, Ken? You spent three hours on the phone with Ursula telling her to stop stalking you? I smiled as the brother laid on all that thick horse crap. It was starting to smell in there. So I told him, “Ken, I checked the phone logs. I know that you are lying through your teeth right now.”

“What?”

“You can make a mean omelet but you couldn’t lie your way out of a paper bag.”

“Um…the phone logs?”

I had a copy in my purse. I calmly went to retrieve it and when I got back to Ken’s dining room, the man had turned beet red. “You see here,” I pointed. “Ursula, Ursula, Ursula, Ursula.” Having pointed to her number as well as the various and numerous minutes Ken had spent on the phone with her, I sat back. Let it all soak in.

“Ken, I’m going to give you a chance to redeem yourself. Tell me the truth, right here, right now. Go.”

His eyes darted. He was searching for the right words to say.

“If you’re thinking of a way to explain the call log, Ken, don’t bother. I want you to tell me the truth. Tell it to me like I already know it.”

“I met Ursula at the truck stop,” he said. “She worked behind the counter.”

“Uh huh.”

“We said more to each other than just “Hi” and “Bye.” We…um…kicked it a couple times.”

“Okay.”

“She got pregnant.”

“Go on.”

“I told her to stop working at the truck stop. Just stay home and do my taxes, my books. She didn’t want much.”

“Then she found out about me.”

“Then she found out about you.”

“You see how easy that was, Ken? How easy it was to tell the truth as opposed to a bunch of lies that never match up?”

“Why are you here then?”

That question floored me. Stole all my little thunder. Before, I had my witness on the stand and I was treating him like a hostile witness. I was winning. The jury was all smiles. I even heard a few “You go, girls!” I thought the judge was going to have to bang his gabble and bring the crowd in for how good I was presenting my case. And then my hostile witness asked me–the star attorney, the astute litigator–why I was there with him when I knew he was lying through his teeth.

“Because I didn’t see any more calls from you to Ursula after you got caught,” I said.

Do you believe this crap? I wanted to slap myself in the mouth. Where was Nanna Mosley when you need her? She surely would have slapped my face for that answer. WHAP!!! She would have made me go and pick out my own switch and I better not bring back something skinny. That switch better have some meat on it. “And keep the leaves on it,” she would say. The leaves did something to make the switch sting more. Increased surface area, plasticity of the leaf? I don’t know; never claimed to be a scientist. But after hearing me bring that stupidity out of my mouth, Nanna would have gotten after me with a vengeance. And she was old-school. She would swing on every syllable. “Don’t—you—ev—er—say—some—thing—that—stup—id—a—gain!” Each syllable, that switch would hit my bare thighs and little green and brown leaves would fly every whichaway. When Nanna beat you, you prayed for small words and short sentences.

Ken came to where I was sitting. Almost crawled to me. And he said, “Is there a chance for us then?”

I nodded yes. Braced myself for Nanna’s switch.

***

The conversation afterwards was a blur to me. Something about Ken saying he was sorry and thanking me for giving him another chance. Something about me needing time, though, and still being vulnerable. Blah, blah, blah. I told Ken I wasn’t ready to sleep with him yet and he respected that. So he slept in the living room while I slept in his bedroom. It was way early in the morning. I was thankful to be lying flat on a mattress. Don’t think I could have survived another night on that loveseat. I could hear Ken snoring right outside the bedroom door. And if that was supposed to make me feel safe and secure, it didn’t. All this time, scared to live alone, I worried that there was some monster on the other side of the door trying to hurt me. I was not alone now. Ken was on the other side of the door. However, he was still a monster.

Or maybe, whether I was alone or with Ken or my old roommate or Trap, it didn’t matter. There was always going to be a monster. But it wasn’t on the other side of the door in the next room. This monster was with me, at all times—in the brightness of day and in the shadow of night.

 

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