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  • Writer's picturethejsingraham

"Salt & Pepper" - excerpt 420

Following an adventurous in all the wrong ways Saturday, Chris is licking his wounds after sleeping in. An unexpected and unwanted call disturbs his groove. One that only a trip to his magic box can cure.

 

“Good afternoon, lady. Looks like you beat me to the punch.”


“Hey King. How are you, love?”


I hated the tone of her voice. Because it still caressed the back of my neck, working its way to stroking my ear lobes like it always had. The fact that she called me King in that overly familiar way she did when things were all good, did not help matters.


“Chris. Chris, works fine.”


Leaning against the wall in my dining room, I stared at the reddish brown laminate flooring under my feet—the silence on the line, deafening.


“Don’t you think that’s a bit extra? I mean it’s been two years. I think you made your po—-…”


“Mal, I’mma stop you right there before you go too far left. This ain’t a conversation we are about to have. Not now, not ever to be quite honest.”


“Well, I think that’s pretty shitty, to be quite honest.”


The way she said those last four words, mocking me, was intentional. One of her triggers as long as I had known her was being ignored. A close second, not being given the opportunity to finish a thought or share her view. I was two-for-two on both of those.


She was trying to agitate me. Because even a fight garners her my attention.


Too damn bad. Making amends with me could be a part of a twelve-step program to life-saving recovery and I still wouldn’t give a fuck. The therapy I sought after leaving everything I fucking knew in life, was to find answers for me. To make sense of this situation, for me.


Any responsibility to or for her well-being left when she came to the conclusion to cum for that nigga.


“Look, about this gift,” I interjected to sever all thoughts of whatever she was about to say next. “I wanted to thank you. The piece was beautiful. You went grossly overboard, but its beautiful nonetheless. Knowing you, you shredded that receipt as soon as you got confirmation that I signed for it. Right?”


“You know me oh too well. So, you uh, gonna take a picture in it for me?”


There was a faint existence of flirty playfulness on those words, carefully probing for an in to maneuver this convo to the past. Persistence, thy name is Malika King. My eyes rolled so hard, I’m surprised she didn’t see it somehow. For once I wished someone would have FaceTimed me instead of calling.


“Yeah, so imma go. Once again, I appreciate the gift, truly.”


My phone vibrated on the table, letting me know a text came in. Seeing, Pretty Eyes, pop up on my screen put a smile on my face.


“King, when are we…”


“Chris.”


“Chriiiis,” she drug out. “When are you going to allow me to make…when are you going to forgive me for how things ended? It’s been over two years. What happened was a mista–”


The mere almost mentioning of that word caused me to see red. A mistake was a one time occurrence. We don’t have to agree if something was right, wrong, or a big deal. We don’t even have to agree to accept an apology and reconcile. Admitting a decision was a mistake, doable.


But repeat, regular, trapses into the same…mistake, is a god damn choice. 


Standing here looking down at my phone, a rage I thought I put to bed over a year ago flipped the switch on stress filled tension I felt in my shoulders. Being able to feel how hard my teeth were clenched, in my temples, however, let me know this conversation had gone on far too long. I siphoned oxygen from the now stale air in my dining room audibly, calming me enough to keep things cordial.


“Mal, imma go. Do me a favor. While this watch is lovely, for my actual birthday tomorrow…”


“Yeah, Ki–...Chris. Sorry, old habits,” she tittered.


“Don’t call me again. Ever.”


I pressed end on the call before she had a chance to respond. 


Post Mal convo thoughts had me heading down the hall toward my room with a desperate pace. The thought permeating through my mind one I had yesterday while sitting on the floor surrounded by laundry.


Losing all of this unwanted frustration in a cloud of smoke.


Making my way back to the front of the house box in hand, I went over to the table, grabbed my phone and sat down on the loveseat.


“Alexa…play It’s Ecstasy When You Lay Down Next to Me, by Barry White.”


Lifting the lid on the box I sifted through my options of strains as the kick and bass guitar started up on the iconic track. Settling on Kandyland, a sativa, I opened the jar and a sweet, lightly earthy scent leapt out. Shit! I pulled out some nuggets and started to break them down. The snare and the piano kicked in next on the bouncy record, flowing through my speakers as I loaded up my grinder. 


Grabbing a funnel, I mindlessly tapped my phone screen, while my shoulders and head started rocking side to side. The cello came on just before the Maestro started crooning and Pretty Eyes’ name set atop a text preview when I opened my own.


“Oh shit!” I said allowed to four walls. "Totally forgot this came in earlier.”


Pretty Eyes:  I called you DC…huuuh, this is embarrassing. Do you mind if I call you? I hate trying to explain things via text.

I sat there grinning as she explained her last text before Maleficent called and ruined the mood. I pressed the call button instead of wasting time with a reply and she picked up on the second ring.


“You don’t follow direction too well do you?”


She laughed and it sounded so good on my ears, I froze with the partially filled funnel in my hand. That shit hits different when you feel yourself smiling and your mood shifts along with it.


I neatly put everything away because, I didn’t even feel like smoking anymore.


“Blame it on my selective hearing,” I returned. “So tell me miss Nia, what’s good with this DC name? I mean other than the obvious.”


When she coughed, mentioning something about being happy she wasn’t in front of me right now, I smiled a little broader because I felt conflicted. While I didn’t want her to see me cheesing, I did wish I could see her. Be around her. There was just something about the way my body reacted when she was near. 


Clearing her throat she told me it was something she and Blake came up with. How I was introduced as Chris, and though they knew my nickname was Boom, they didn’t want to assume it was okay for them to use. I respected the reasoning, but it wasn’t that serious. Once I pressed her on the other reason she mentioned the other day, the coughing fit returned. She pled the fifth and begged for me to move around.


“Okay, I’ll let you make it, slim. On one condition.”


“What’s that?”


I tapped the FaceTime icon and waited. Hoping like hell I hadn’t overplayed my hand.


“So you don’t follow direction and you're presumptuous?” she said as her ceiling came into view.

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