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  • Writer's picturethejsingraham

"Salt & Pepper" (excerpt - III)

Following an unexpected and unwelcome call from his ex-wife, Boom disconnected from the world for the weekend. Monday morning, though, brings him far more than just the start of a new week. Because some things, you can't run from. [unedited]


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The downside to turning your phone off for an extended period is the hell that awaits once you flip that switch. My shit was Tamia line dancing across my nightstand when I turned it on Monday morning. Notification after notification, after notification.

Thank God for being born & raised in an era where we were really outside. Disconnecting from the world for a weekend, hell, that was easy. Way easier than the opposite.

Damn you, Miko.

Just like that, I was back to fighting the irritation Door Dashed to me by my ex.

On the way into the office this morning, I was forced to do something I had rarely done since moving to Houston, listen to the damn radio. Absolutely nothing against 97.9 or 102.1 FM, I was just a creature of habit. Starting my day with a much needed taste of home, made dealing with everything else, easy.

picture of Houston early morning traffic

My commute to work typically went by without issue. SURE, one of the things I was told to be prepared for when I moved down here was the rush hour traffic. But I was used to that driving in and out of D.C. every day.

As long as I had a tumbler of piping hot Italian roast and my favorite satellite Go-Go station, Nadi's Pocket Watch, I was set. No amount of traffic formed against me shall prosper. Besides, I was out the door so early in the morning, I was normally in the parking garage before it got untenable.

But the damn Outlook dings, text and DM vibrations, and even Messenger tones—the latter of which I couldn’t even figure out how to turn off, fuck!

My phone sounded like a damn hospital monitor. And we won’t even get into the missed calls I had.

In trying to put up a digital forcefield to keep Kimiko’s resourceful ass from getting in touch with me, I indirectly put a few of my, situations, on timeout. You would think that would not be an issue since there was no misconstruing what I had with these women. I mean these weren’t even friends with benefits. Just strictly benefits. 

I guess I could have let them know what was up first, I thought. Then again, nah, fuck that. If you hit me and I don’t respond, keep it pushing. Hell, it was just two days.

The tidal wave of older messages that arrived when I turned the phone on was one thing, however, the real-time notifications. Those were fucking annoying because every time a song got good, a new one was interrupting my Bluetooth connection.  

Goddamn, I hate interconnectivity sometimes. If a brother can’t put his phone on DND what the hell is the benefit of not being married?

102.1 FM ushered me from my crib in Mo City to downtown Sugarland, where I worked. Once I got upstairs and settled in, I took advantage of the quiet from getting in so early. Shooting quick texts to Sereeta, Charmaine, and Randii, I apologized for the radio silence and let them know I’d get up with them later in the day.

Randii’s ass was the lone one that tried to force a text conversation right then because of course her young ass did. Finally giving her enough to appease her, I sat back in my chair and stared at the ceiling. Looking to clear my mind of, hell, everything before the hustle and bustle of the workday truly started.

Glancing over at my phone, I couldn’t help but think about what I had just spent the last twenty or so minutes doing. 

“My ass was just explaining myself to women I intentionally kept at arm’s length,” I said aloud to no one. 

The low ambient hum of the HVAC system offered an optimal backdrop to my very loud, very verbal thoughts. Feeling myself slip into a place I refused to go, I sat up, grabbed my phone, and some blueprints I requested from archives last week, and headed to a big open-concept conference area. I hoped to reset my brain with work, visuals, data, anything. However, when I rolled out the large vellum prints, my eyes went to my bare left ring finger. What the fuck?

Coming off of a nineteen-year marriage that ended the way it did, the last thing I wanted was a real relationship.

There was a nine to twelve-month period between my filing for divorce to shortly after it was finalized where I could not even think about being with another woman. I couldn’t even bring myself to talk to one long enough to get some ass. The “yeah but” that rang in my ears for even the most attractive of them was just that loud. 

Men and women are humans, prone to make mistakes of varying magnitudes.

But Kimiko was supposed to be my forever. 

I met my now ex during my junior year at Ripley University in Washington, D.C. From the minute she stepped on the yard, she had every dude at the world’s greatest HBCU losing their goddamn minds. I’m talking acting a level of out-of-character that had to have the school’s founders in a perpetual state of rolling over in their graves.

Her body was perfect.

An all-natural hourglass shape that was accentuated by her being a trained dancer, cheerleader, and martial artist in her youth. The partial Carribean blood that ran through her veins mixed perfectly with her mom’s Southern heritage, to do the rest in filling out her frame. Breasts, a perfectly perky 36C. An onion-shaped ass that made the pockets on her jeans smile when she slid in them and caused the peplum skirts she wore when it was nice out, to dance with each step.

Waist? What waist. And those legs. Her thighs and calves had a tone, that made them just as showstopping as the rest of her. Then to top it all off, she had a face card made for Black Hollywood, with smiling eyes that were sexy even when she frowned.

To put it simply, Miko was tough as shit.

This is why when we ran into each other a few years after she graduated making a play was a no-brainer. It was supposed to be casual, but the more time we spent with one another, the closer we grew. After a little more than two years, we tied the knot, and everything was beautiful. 

We made a conscious decision to live life loud. To be selfish, forego kids, pour into each other, and aggressively go after what we wanted. Separately, we were successful. She was a wunderkind in the hospitality management space. Becoming the youngest regional vice president for one of the larger hotel brands in North America before forty. I was a city engineer before starting an urban planning business with my lifelong friend Corliss Anthony.

A business that rocketed all of us to a different tax bracket, turning my wife and me into #couplegoals for those who paid attention to such things. Shit was phenomenal until it wasn’t. 

The attention that came with it wasn’t for me, so I let my man Corliss, who I had known since I was eleven or twelve, take care of that. He was always a flashy nigga as long as I knew him, and I was good playing the background. I just wanted to do my job, do some good for my people with other folks' money, then go home to my wife.

Oddly enough, the more success we garnered, the more free time I was afforded. 

Time I used to give back to various clubs and spaces that nurtured me coming up. I didn’t shirk my duties at work or home, or so I thought. But a lot of the fluff events like random appearances just for show, I wasn’t with it. Whether it was supporting something my wife was doing or furthering a cause, I was always there. But the extra pomp and circumstance, nah, I wasn’t trying to be anybody’s celebrity, local or otherwise. 

I guess I sent my wife in my place alongside my partner one too many times. 

Whatever man.

(to be cont'd...)

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