I hadn’t been that excited about meeting a woman since, well, ever. I sat at my desk struggling to focus on the task at hand. I was preparing a press release for an upcoming event. But, my brain wouldn’t cooperate. I’d typed Zola’s name no less than five times at various points in the press release. Zola was now the name of a pharmaceutical company, a new drug for impotence (I laughed out loud at that), the wife of a man who was suffering from impotence and had given her testimonial as to its effectiveness. Zola had become the name of the drug’s active ingredient (Zoladenifil Citrate), and I’d even renamed my employer Zola Public Relations. Mr. Cohen wouldn’t appreciate that though, I laughed, as I made the corrections.
“Not you in a good mood,” came a voice over the thin walls of my cubical. “Did hell freeze over?”
Angela Milano, my nosy cubicle neighbor, was beside me before I could reply. But, even she couldn’t ruin my mood. Not that my mood could get any worse than it generally was. I swiveled around in my chair and said, “No stupid, I met someone.” I had to tell somebody. I couldn’t keep it to myself.
“Oh, my God. You? Stop your lying!”
“Is that so hard to believe?”
“Actually…well…it’s kinda impossible to believe,” she said. Then, she started scratching her scalp. I knew it wasn’t dandruff, though. No. She just became nervous whenever she spoke to me about any aspect of my personal life. She wasn’t that way with everyone, though. And, it had to be because I was black. That was the only marked difference between all the others and myself.
Apparently, Angela hadn’t been paying attention during her Corporate Political Correctness course (as it pertains to interacting with minorities in the workplace). It was evident on several occasions when she would say something remotely racially offensive. Every blond and brunette eyebrow in the vicinity of her gaffe would rise in unison. I would look around, wincing appropriately, just to sustain the charged atmosphere. I enjoyed the discomfort of white folks…It was my ancestors that made their comforts possible, anyway. Angela would be oblivious of her solecism, though. She was just an ignorant Italian chick from Staten Italian-Island. That was one of the things I liked about her, though. She was as real as white folks got with me- A leopard that didn’t hide behind her spots. That is, when her ignorance didn’t get the best of me, which it periodically would.
The head scratching was accompanied by an awkward grin. I could see in her face the effort to think before speaking- something she was unaccustomed to doing. Speaking frankly to me had become an issue, having been instructed to suppress and censor her banter so as not to incite my volatile and or hypersensitive nature.
“Not that you’re not handsome. You know Ijust love you. How many times have I told you that you look just like Denzel Washington?”
She’d said it several times, but the only thing Denzel and I have in common is skin tone, and perhaps height. However, I’d never seen Denzel in person and anyone can be made to look tall on film. Angela thought she was complimenting me, though, and I let her slide on intent most of the time. It was the only way not to dig into my black bag daily, and let her have it about the diversity of people of African descent, etc, etc, yada yada yada… It got tired after a while. Putting a dent in her ignorance was an exercise in futility, anyway.
“Denzel, huh? Is that a fact?”
“Oh, yeah…” she said, “So, who’s this girl?”
I was in the mood to tell Angela all about Zola a few moments ago, if for no other reason than to hear Zola’s name spoken aloud, used in complete sentences. Hell, I wanted to jump for joy and scream ‘hallelujah’ for the whole office to hear. But, the ‘Denzel’ thing had turned me off. Brought me back to reality. I wasn’t just a man who’d met a woman any longer. Now, I was fucking Denzel Washington. Now, I was a topic of discussion behind closed doors between management and colleagues. Now, I was a black drone working in a predominantly white and female business, trying to complete a press release that was past due. Everything in that business was past due. Assignments I hadn’t even been given yet were due already. And, I’d be lucky to escape that menstruating sweatshop by 7pm.
“Just some girl in the subway,” I said. Then, to hasten her departure, I gestured towards my computer monitor and added, “I gotta finish writing this press release, or else…I’ll get at you later.”
“What? Now, what did I say?”
“God, Kevin. You’re so sensitive.”
“Well, you are.”
“Would you rather I was insensitive?” I threatened. She knew how incisive my insensitivity could be. Don’t let me get started on the Italians: A line from one of my favorite Italian films, ‘The Godfather’- They’re animals anyway, so let them lose their souls…
“Fine,” she said, and returned to her comb in the corporate hive, leaving me be.
A message box popped up on my computer screen alerting me that I had a new e-mail message in my in-box. It was from Cheryl. It read:
Your sorry butt can’t return calls, I see. I wasn’t going to speak to you until you did but it occurred to me you probably forgot. You’re lucky I’m thoughtful.
Damn, that’s right. She’d called Sunday prompting the clash with Kim.
Anyway, it turns out Curtis is married with children. They’re separated, now. That’s why he’s back in America. He said he’s going back to Italy in a few weeks. He has a Condo in Rome, you know. Meanwhile, he’s staying at his folk’s house in Queens.
Yeah and…did you give him some ass or not?
He’s a little screwed up but he’s really sweet, Kevin. After breakfast we drove out to the Jersey shore to catch the sunrise. And, we TALKED (I know what you’re thinking!). He told me about his wife and how she turned out to be a gold digging philandering so and so.
…Like he had so much gold to dig. Shit, NFL players don’t even get paid that much, unless they’re marquee players. How rich was he getting in a fucking country where soccer was still called football?
For some reason, I thought of the photo Curtis had shown me of his son, Simba; little happy Simba with his curly orange afro. Then, I thought about the Lion Kingand how I felt when Simba’s father, Mustafa, died in the stampede. And, now, Simba may be losing his Daddy. I felt sorry for Simba. I identified with him. I thought about my own father. Lorenzo Jackson. Essentially, MIA most of my life…
I suddenly felt this throbbing ache in my chest cavity. The ache was physical but I could feel myself becoming emotionally upset. My breathing became labored and I knew I could start crying at any moment. I looked around to see if anyone was watching me. No one was around. I’d felt this feeling many times. It was the way I felt sometimes when I thought about Stephanie, only much stronger. It was the way I felt when I thought about Ma after I hadn’t spoken to her in a while. The way I felt at those times when I sat in my big, empty apartment with the walls closing in on me, feeling the void I’d been trying to fill with Kim’s presence. It was…I didn’t have a word for it. Several emotions were battling to be the defining attribute of this feeling.
I felt so sad for him. At first, I thought he was trying to gas me. You know how trifling you Negroes can be. Go to any extreme just to get some you-know-what. But, he was genuinely distressed and heartbroken. He really loves her.
Sophia…I could hear the echo of her name rolling off of Curtis’ tongue in the bathroom at The Scene.
I was upset with myself when I called you. I was thinking…while he was looking for a friendly ear, I was just scheming on getting in his…you know. I felt like a so-and-so on wheels. I’m fine now- no thanks to you. We’re going out tonight.
I felt Cheryl’s need to be out, suddenly. I wasn’t sold on Curtis’ sainthood, though. I knew all about the ‘friendly ear’ scenario. He sure wasn’t behaving like a broken man at The Scene. But, Cheryl’s a pretty good judge of character. If he were frontin’ she’d have seen through it.
I told him about Nubia and he wants to check it out for himself. Aren’t you hooking up with Kwame, tonight? You two should meet us at Nubia. Some of my girlfriends from work are coming. (I told them Curtis would be trickin’ for the drinks.)
PS: Don’t feel bad about not getting back to me, (As if…). I still love ya.
They say it’s a small world. As far as black New York is concerned, it’s microscopic. I wrote her a quick reply to let her know not to try and hook me up with any of her girlfriends. She was always trying to pimp her co-workers and clients on me like some kind of madam. Usually they were cute. That is, black, attractive, smart, chubby and either separated or single, but generally with children. Or, they were hip white chicks with a penchant for presumably well-endowed black men. I typed that I’d be spoken for tonight with my new love interest. Damn, did I just write that? Love interest?I’d spent about 5 minutes with the girl and already I was ready to build a future with her. She’s just another woman. Another impromptu date…like the other night with Tameeka. And, that went well, didn’t it? I deleted the sentence and entered I met someone and she’ll be at Nubia tonight.
As soon as I sent the e-mail, my phone rang. An inter-office ring as opposed to the distinctive sound an incoming external call would make.
“This is Kevin.”
“Kevin, would you step into my office for a moment! CLICK.” It was my boss, Mary Vogel, the Account Supervisor. And, she didn’t sound too happy. There was usually a faux-delight in her voice whenever she spoke to me. If the CPC course I hypothesized about truly existed then Mary would’ve been its instructor. However, this time there was a tangible lacing of angry tension or condescension attached to her voice. This was the way she dealt with the other Account Executives on a regular basis, and, unless they were wearing blinders they had to be aware of the flagrant favoritism, for lack of a better term. It was like a Handle With Care sign hung like a noose around my neck. The resounding disconnection of her call in my ear declared that preferential treatment might be coming to an abrupt end.
Mary’s office was about four times the size of my cubicle. A window looked out at the dreary concrete and gleaming windows of a disenfranchising city. Certainly, nothing to aspire to. Nor was the power she wielded maniacally much of an incentive. Something about being a PR professional made people unreasonable; especially healthcare PR. Day in and day out spent trying to push a drug that had a strong chance of killing people at an acceptable ratio to the people it aids. No, not unreasonable. More at unconscionable. I could feel it happening to me- the insidious onset of humanitarian indifference and manic-depression.
Mary was on the phone or rather she was wearing headphones so that her hands were free to do things like direct me to sit down and enter data into her Blackberry. She had immaculate posture like if she were balancing a book upon her head. She spoke fluent authoritative English, smuggling sips from a two-liter water bottle between sentences. She was politicking with one of the execs at Zyletec Pharmaceuticals, I gathered, discussing the Vigoral account. She was looking at me with a penetrating gaze as she alluded to things that were in progress. I was trying to appear casually interested but the strongest thought passing through my mind at that moment was the nerve of this bitch to hang up on me! Looking like an ultra-white version of Uhuru from Star Trek. Captain Kirk, I’m picking up a weak signal from the surface…
“…Most of the assets are in place. Just a few loose ends to tie up and we’ll be in business,” Mary said, talking that pseudo-power language. It all sounded like bullshit to me. She was probably thinking I was picking up pointers on how to handle huge clients, how to talk the talk. She wished.
Then the conversation took an awkward turn. Her suave artfulness became a song of Dans. “Sure, Dan. Of course, Dan. Dan. Dan. DAN!” Daniel Bowman was this management prick over at Zyletec who liked to stop by the office unexpectedly just to see how well his company’s money was being spent, PR-wise. He did it for fun. And they wonder why management is always the first to go when there’s a merger.
Mary ended her call by saying, “Every middle-aged man and woman in Minneapolis will know of Vigoral by next week.” She sounded like she was repeating something Dan had told her to say. Her cheeks had turned a beet red.
Once she had hung up the receiver severing the connection and rendering her earpiece useless, she threw it on her desk like it was some creature that had been crawling in her bleached blond hair. I wanted to crack wise and ask how Dan was doing, but I restrained myself. Mary just sat there a moment looking the way I felt about my job. Her whole disposition exasperatingly inquired why the hell did I ever get into this business. She remained that way long enough for me to realize that she was either seeking sympathy or sharing a moment of her life with me. And, it seemed…genuine. I almost felt sorry for her. Almost. Hell, she was making six figures, married to a man making six figures, young, childless and white. She was the American dream. The last thing she needed was my pity. I wasn’t feeling her at all.
After a few moments, she took a deep breath and said, “So…Kevin, where are we on that press release? Wait, no. Before we cover that. Ruth has a family emergency and she’s going out of town for a few days. I’m gonna need you to do me a big favor and go to Minnesota this weekend for the event.”
“This weekend,” I said.
That explained the attitude. Ruth Perez always had a convenient family emergency whenever it was time to travel. Last time it was her father in San Juan. The time before, it was her favorite aunt in Miami. Of course, she’d confessed to me, her only other minority colleague, the truth: Ruth hated flying and didn’t know how to tell Mary that she’d taken a job that required light travel without ever intending to do so. She was probably out interviewing for a new job. The way this project was going she was hardly a step ahead of the ax that Mary carried around like Lizzie Borden, firing people, or driving them to quit.
I didn’t understand why I had to go, though. I’d gone to Boston, Seattle and Memphis on events in the past three months. All of those cities were balmy compared to Minneapolis. It was minus forty degrees in Minnesota that time of year. And, I’d be stuck with that lunatic Angela. But, if I didn’t accept the assignment, with enthusiasm, that ax might be aimed at my neck next.
“I know it’s short notice but I can’t send Angela alone. You know how she gets. And, I gotta be here for the convention. We really need you, Kevin. Please say you’ll go?”
The candy coating on her directive made me sick. I fantasized for a moment about saying no while I let her pretend to sweat. Hell no Mary! I got a life, and commitments. I can’t pick up on a moment’s fucking notice and go to the Arctic fucking Circle. You’ll just have to find some other schmuck. I’d learned a lot of Yiddish since I started in PR.
“No problem, Mary.”
“Oh, Kevin. You’re the best! You leave on Saturday morning and you’ll be back by Tuesday night, I promise.”
Who the fuck was she, Mother Nature? What if there’d been a blizzard, or an ice storm? They’re not exactly unheard of in Minnesota. Think positive, I’d told myself. Zola. Her name came to me as a positive thought.
“Oh, Mary, I’m gonna need to leave on time today. I need to make some last minute preparations for my trip. You know, tie up some loose ends.”
She gave me a dirty look. It only lasted for a fraction of a second but I caught it before she could hide it behind her CPC mask.
“Sure,” she said through her saccharine smile. The one she makes when she has the whole account team in the conference room and can’t decide whether to admonish everyone or to single out someone. “Speaking of loose ends…How’s that release coming? We needed it yesterday. What’s the delay? Where’s my rough draft? I need that ASAP, ok? Come on, Kevin. You’ve lost a step, lately. Are you okay? Is everything okay at home?”
Her questions weren’t rhetorical. She just hadn’t the patience to wait for answers so she’d race through her questioning just to put it all on the table. She hated excuses, which was fine with me cause my work credo was: don’t complain, don’t explain.I couldn’t remember the person who’d coined the phrase but at some point I adopted it. Whenever I felt like I was in a position where an explanation was expected, or a complaint was in order, I’d simply describe the actions I would take to resolve the issue. It didn’t always work. But, it had the semblance of pro-activity so I got away with it. The company was big on pro-activeness.
I ignored her disingenuous concern for my well being. That was my subtle way of rebelling against the establishment without complaining. “I’m finishing up, now,” I said
“I expect to see it today, Kevin. Dan is riding me on this one. You heard it for yourself.” She fabricated a smile from hell that hollered work with me here and asked, “Is there anything I can do to help?”
There must be some management recipe book somewhere that contains lines like is there anything I can do to help. I’d been working at Cohen long enough to see two other women hold Mary’s office, and they’d each asked me the same question, using the same wording, wearing the same God-awful grin. Maybe the book came with the office.
As I rose to leave (before she’d indicated she was done) I said, devoid of sarcasm, “You’ve done plenty already.”
I had a release to complete by 6pm. I didn’t want to keep Zola waiting.
As soon as I emailed the completed press release to Mary, the phone rang.
“This is Kevin.”
“Whatcha doin’ after work? We gotta talk!” It was Kim.
I hated to lie but I couldn’t tell her about Nubia. So, I stalled while I thought of something that was vaguely true.
“Hello, how are you? How’s your day going? These are called pleasantries, my dear. You ought to try them, sometimes. Maybe you would get a better reception, then.”
“Kill dat noize, cradle snatcher.”
Cradle snatcher! Fine. So much for pleasantries…
“Listen, Kim. I’m busy, now. And, I’m busy later, too. Call me back when you get a better attitude.” And, I hung up. Something I’d never done to her before and regretted immediately. Of course, the phone rang again almost instantly. I picked it up, relieved that she’d called back so quickly. I felt obliged to maintain my anger, though, to remain consistent. So I shouted, “What!”
“Ah, I’m sorry. Can I speak with Kevin Jackson?” It wasn’t Kim. Shit!
“This is Kevin.” I was hoping it wasn’t someone important.
“Kevin? It’s Charlie Reynolds, KCBO, Minneapolis.”
I was relieved it wasn’t a senior at the firm, or someone like Dan Bowman. I could see the light for my second line flashing on the phone. Thathad to be Kim. Well, I’d let her spew her unpleasantness into my voice-mail. Charlie produced ‘Get Up Minneapolis,’ the highest rated morning talk show in Minneapolis. I wasn’t about to put him on hold for jack.
“Sorry about that, Charlie! It’s been one of those days.”
“I have them all the time,” Charlie laughed.
“I’m sure my minor problems pale in comparison to the deluge of crap you gotta deal with producing one of the most highly rated and respected programs in the Minnesota.”
“Crap is crap, I’ve found.”
“Well, you’re right about that,” I said, feeling like a yesman. Okay, go aggressive. “So, you must be calling to confirm for Monday morning? We’re all set up! I’ll be coming over there myself, and I’m looking forward to meeting you.”
“You’re coming? Well…”
Oh shit! I thought that KCBO was a lock. I’d spoken to Charlie several times and though he was evasive and non-committal I had had a good feeling about him. We’d joked about the way to tease an upcoming segment dealing with impotency. I told him he could say, “Coming up, we have a man who has a lot more Get Up, thanks to a new drug for impotency.” Charlie had chuckled and said he liked it. So, I presumed I’d sold him on the idea. But, this hesitance…
“What’s the problem, Charlie? Conflict of interest?” Which was the subtlest way I could think of to suggest that KCBO was in bed with the competition and no longer an impartial member of the free press. It was a dangerous implication.
“No, nothing like that,” Charlie said, without taking offense. “We’ve looked over the press release and it’s pushing the envelope, commercially speaking. And there simply isn’t enough data here to support all of the claims. Plus, the drug’s only been on the market for, what, 6 months, or so, and we’re already hearing about serious side effects.”
That didn’t surprise me. The competition had been doing their job, but well. There had been at least three different video news releases illustrating that very information, however tainted, since the FDA’s approval of Vigoral.
“Tell me a drug that doesn’t have serious side effects,” I said squarely. “The FDA approved it, Charlie. KCBO has no liability. You know that.”
“But, we have a responsibility to our listeners. We’re liable to them.”
These Mid-Westerners. They’d take morality over legality every time.
“Charlie. Impotency is a serious issue. You’ve seen the data. Men, and their women, are suffering. There are Minnesotans, right now, wishing they could be getting laid. But, they can’t. And, a lot of them can’t use the competitor’s product cause of their heart conditions. But, with Zola, I mean, Vigoral, they can enjoy healthy, normal sex lives without the risk of their tickers quitting in the process. Now, tell me your listeners wouldn’t benefit from this information? We’re not selling it, Charlie. We’re just informing the citizens of Minneapolis that there is a less risky alternative. They still have to go through their doctor for the green light. Our spokesperson is a fascinating personality, as you well know, and our Doctor has an impeccable track record and a wealth of intimate information about the product, if you know what I mean.”
I couldn’t believe Zola’s name came up during a pitch.
“Say ‘I’ll see you Monday.'”
“Okay, I’ll see you Monday,” Charlie said, “But…What’s Zola?”
“Zola’s a who, not a what,” I replied. “And, she’s myVigoral.”
Charlie laughed, but hard.
I was amazed at how well I could do a job I disliked. My sense of satisfaction was short-lived, though. I suddenly felt like a trained dog. Performing his master’s beckoning may give the dog a sense of satisfaction, but it wasn’t of his own free will that he sicced trespassers, was it? I had to get out of there. I couldn’t wait to feel the personal satisfaction attained through the successes of my own enterprise. I just had to get Kwame on the same page.
This is Kevin. This is Kevin. This is Kevin. All day. I hate the name Kevin.
Six o’clock finally arrived and I felt like Fred Flintstone about to slide down the spine of a Tyrannosaurus Rex. Yabba Dabba Doo. My hours were actually 8am to 5pm, but arriving at Cohen after 7:30am without a verifiable commuter horror story and leaving before 6pm, short of being in an ambulance, was highly discouraged.
Man, I could use a drink. A shot of Tequila would set me right…
I’d used that thought in a failed effort to distract myself from the true reason for my excitement. I didn’t want to jinx myself. My karma wasn’t the best. But, if it were so bad, why would I have had the good fortune of meeting her? Zola. The name darted from that place I tried to bury it. It refused to be suppressed. But, what if she doesn’t show? What if she…I stopped myself, right there! The range of things that could possibly go wrong was so broad I could spend an hour dwelling on them. I decided, rather, to focus on the positive. She’ll show, or she won’t. Life goes on regardless. I have my health, physical health anyway- my mental and emotional health was questionable.
When I reached the lobby, I turned to say good bye to that cute receptionist; too bad she was engaged. She had a troubled look on her face like oh, oh. I didn’t know what to make of it. She nodded towards the waiting area. I turned to see Kim sitting there readinga magazine. How the hell…She hadn’t looked up, yet. I’d seldom seen her reading anything. She looked so studious and sophisticated- almost cosmopolitan, with her legs crossed. I felt proud, at that moment, and claimed her like I’d never claimed her before. She was mine! I was about to walk over and tell her so when I suddenly came to my senses, and the moment was over just like that. Nothing is that easy with Kim. She’d make a scene, probably here in the office. And, there’d be no meeting Kwame, or Zola.
I back-stepped into the office bay, the receptionist giggling at me. When I got back to my cube I called reception.
“Why didn’t you tell me there was someone here to see me?”
“She just got here, and I figured you were coming out any minute…”
“Stop lying. I haven’t left here before seven in months,” I hollered a little louder than I needed to. I can’t stand when women pull that shit. They’re all sororal. They’re all in the same gang. “She told you not to tell me, didn’t she?”
“Would I do that?”
“Listen, Sharon, you got me into this, and you gotta help me out of this.”
“Out of what? Isn’t she your girlfriend? She calls here all the time. I’d know her voice, anywhere.”
She had me with that. I never gave Kim the number nor the address but she can be resourceful when she wanted to be.
“You gotta tell her I’m working late. Like, till 11, or something. Tell her I’m gonna be in a meeting for a while and that she shouldn’t wait…Then, call me back.” I hung up.
After a few moments passed, the phone rang.
“What did she say?”
“She said she wants to see you before she leaves.”
“So! Tell her…” Then something occurred to me: Why the hell was I ducking Kim? I shouldn’t have to duck anybody. She wasn’t my girlfriend and I had no obligation to her. So, I marched my righteous ass out to the waiting area where Kim was chitchatting with Sharon.
“Hey Peanut Chew,” I cajoled, hugging and dragging her away into the elevator bay.
“Don’t Peanut chew me after you done hanged up on me!”
“You do it to me all the time,” I said, instinctively. Once my brain caught up to my mouth I shut up and thought about strategy. Getting argumentative with Kim was a bad move. Especially with the particular beef she had with me- Namely, the Keisha incident. That would be even more embarrassing than Sharon knowing my girlfriend was mentally challenged.
“Kevin, I gotta know. I gotta know, right now! Is I’m yo’ girl, or what? Cuz I can’t stand anothuh minute of yo’ bullshit wit’out knowin’ dat I’m doin’ dis for my man, and not some motherfucker who don’t give uh shit. So, tell me now, den you go back to whatever it is you doin’ in dere.”
“Why must you cuss so much? Geez!” I said, trying to stall.
This was it! I could see it in her face; the resolution of the likes she’d displayed in the past when it was her way or no way. I admired her when she was this way. The resolve it took to put it all on the line knowing the odds were against her. I was tempted to say what she wanted to hear just to be supportive of her, to reinforce this behavior and denounce my prejudice against her. But, no way was I going to pass up this opportunity. I’d been perpetrating and perpetuating this fraud for too long.
She started crying, then. No bawling. No histrionics. Just tears.
“Come on, Baby. Don’t do that. Please.”
“Why is you so cold tuh me, Kevin?” she pleaded. “All I wanna do is love you and make you happy, don’t you know dat?”
“I know that,” I confessed.
“You know sumptin’ else…I tell all my friends and dem that youis my man. I do. I tell dem all about duh way you make me feel. Don’t you know dey jealous uh me! Can you believe dat? Can you imagine how fucked up dey shit must be if dey’s hatin’ on me!”
The despair in her voice reached inside of me and started squeezing organs randomly. She’d been entertaining some deep thoughts. That was obvious as well as unusual. I’d never seen her in this light. She was like this stranger inhabiting my Kim’s body. She had this look on her face very similar to the studious expression she had when she was reading her magazine.
“I thought we had it good til not too long ago. Now, I don’t know what we got here. So, now I lie to my friends about us. When dey ax me how is we doin, I lie. I make out like we got it so great. But, it ain’t great, Kevin.”
“I know that,” I confessed, again.
“Dat’s all you gots tuh say?”
“I don’t know what else to say, Kim. It seems like every time I try to…”
“Don’t explain!” She snapped, cutting me off. “You never did before. Don’t be trying to start now. All I need from you is uh yes or no.”
She stood there staring at me for an interminable minute. Then, she turned her back to me and pressed the button for the elevator.
Guilt overtook me. I’d allowed Kim’s heart into the abyss of my own and then dislodged her like a bad meal. I’d created the circumstances that led her to this decision, callously and purposefully. Rather than take the initiative and do the right thing, I’d forced her to do it for me. Her words from the other night echoed in my head: Be a man. She’d been talking to me that night and I’d been listening, but I hadn’t heard a thing. She knew more about what it meant to be a man than I had. Ain’t that some shit?
It’s wasn’t too late, though. All I had to say were those three words: I love you. And, in a way, I did love her. In a strange way…
“You know, Kevin,” she said with her back to me as the elevator door slid open. “I don’t feel sorry for me. I don’t even feel sorry for you.” She stepped into the elevator and turned to face me. As the door slowly slid closed she said, “I feel sorry for the girl you give yo’ fucked up heart to.”
Coming soon- Chapter 7: Kwameism
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