Black Short Stories : Bittersweet Water Chapters 1 ,2, 3 and 4

Discussion in 'Short Stories - Authors - Writing' started by Black Orpheus, Jul 18, 2002.

  1. Black Orpheus

    Black Orpheus Member MEMBER

    Jun 21, 2002
    Likes Received:
    Faye Thomas, a thirty-eight year-old school teacher finds sparks and enlightening late-night conversation with Nathaniel Glover. He's sweet, sensitive, intelligent and unknown to her, he's also turning age nineteen this month. Both bring untold truths, facades and baggage. Will the talk stop when all comes to light? Or will she follow her heart and take a chance.

    Bittersweet Water

    These days are numbered. Days made from wasted hours and empty constitutions will make me an old, skinny hobo before I know it. If I stay in suspended animation like this, life will pass me by while I’m still watching Cosby re-runs. Sometimes I feel like I might as well donate my organs right now.

    With my caviar dreams and Kool-Aid budget, I sing the blues for staying behind these four dusty walls day after day. My bony fingers ache for ivory piano keys. All this talent and no avenues to express them, I can’t help feeling like someone’s joke.

    Mornings are reruns of last week’s mornings.
    I’ve had many good ideas. About two hundred songs, a romantic comedy script and several poems, I haven’t done spit to reach an audience. I will probably die with them in a great poetic gesture, depriving this undeserving world of my genius. The world is probably shouting back “Screw you, too.”

    I can’t end up like my Uncle Terrence. She kills me when Grandma calls me by his name sometimes. Love him . . . Dude could dance. I move like him. Nevertheless, I don’t want to start drinking, wasting my life. Oh, like I’m doing now. These days are numbered.

    My talented ways are at an all-time high. In my dirty socks, jeans and two-day worn t-shirt, I dangle my legs from my multi-flavored Kool-Aid stained wooden barstool in the 16 x 18 foot family room. Seeing most of my friends and cousins leaving their parents’ nests, some graduating and starting their careers, I can only hope I’ll find a way out. The quality of my character already looks bad since I’m nearly 19 years old, no job, not in college and mom pays all the bills. Mom’s cool about it. What a woman.

    Mom’s purse fill wrinkled Chicago Tribune newspaper clippings, napkins, empty envelopes, utility bills, receipts and every other paper except for the U.S dollar. Every night she leaves its contents spilling out onto the couch that also serves as my bed. She and I have been poor all our lives and could care less about it, not Third World poor but struggling with few luxuries. Following the tradition most po folks have set, we’re good at having fun without two pennies to rub together.

    I learned which fork and knife to cut prime rib along with how to properly prepare a fried bologna sandwich. I’ve exposed to enough culture to carry myself in any discussion. This life’s humbling episodes has made me wise in knowing what’s important in life and being able to appreciate the little I do have.

    Being the big-time homebody I am, I have a small number of devoted friends. I wrote Marie three years ago as a pen pal in “Right On” magazine. Marie’s always been a play big sister to me. We never thought about going beyond friends. Some people are made to be your friends and others are for something else. I’ll call Marie to see what the broad is up to.

    Marie’s always depressed about some guy twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. She pretends to be independent but meeting a man and getting engaged takes up ninety percent of her brain waves. I dial her number and she picks up after two rings.

    “ Ay, Marie.”

    Marie edges the words out of her mouth in her thick Jersey accent, “Hey, Nate. You heard from dude, today?” she asks referring to some guy who asked me for a demo tape.

    “Nah. You actually thought he would call me? He was just playing so he could talk to you,” I respond.

    “I don’t think so. He ain’t my type anyways.”

    “Yeah, right. What’s not your type, Ms. Busy-body?” I joke.

    Marie smacks down my insult with, “Boy, puleezze.”

    My other telephone line beeps.

    “That’s you, Nate.”

    “Hold on.” I click over to the other telephone line and answer, “Hello?”

    “Hello. This is Sharon Lamar from Dante Furniture store and I would like to tell you about our great sales- - -”

    “Okay. Sharon? I’m on a long-distance call.”

    “Oh, Okay. I’m sorry. Bye.” The female voice says and scurries away like a frightened child.

    Telephone conversations were better when salespeople came to your house and you could slam the door in their face or run and hide. I click back to my other line, try to gather my thoughts and resume speaking to Marie. “Yeah, so umm . . . what was I saying before pay-a-pest interrupted?”

    Marie bluntly replies, “Nutthin.” As if I were a babbling fool all the time.

    “I was too,” I say in a babyish tone.

    Marie in a mix of exhaustion and light frustration, says, “I don’t know. I gotta get up in the morning anyways, so let me go. Call me tomorrow.”

    Thinking about the long-distance tolls, I say, “You call me.”

    “All right, be good.”

    * * *

    I try to get up with mom just to holler at her before she goes to work. I know mom is worried about grandma. Sometimes, I feel self-conscious when I try to hug her. Mom’s a rock. If she cries, the world must be ending. She has a big heart though. Oh well, out the door with her.

    Cool, I can switch between TV channels and CD tracks at the same time. Oops! The phone is ringing and blowing my fragile concentration away. With a twinge of irritation, I answer, “Hello.”
    “I guess you’re through with your long-distance call now,” a female voice answers in a playful attitude.

    Well, the nerve on this one, she acts like we know each other. “I guess so,” I respond remembering her attempted sales call yesterday.

    “Is now a good time to tell you about our upcoming Thanksgiving sale over here at Dante’s, Home of Chicagoland’s best discount savings? “ she asks.

    Trying not to sound excited by her call, I roll my eyes and reply, “Sure, why not.”

    “Okay!” She inhales enough air in her lungs and recites, “Here at Dante’s, we offer top quality furniture, from Bassett, Ottoman, Lazy-Boy at a savings of 50 to 30% off regular retail price. Kitchen Appliances with extended warranty service. Plush Carpet with stain-resistant Scotchguard protection . . .”

    Okay, she’s in full sales mode. I don’t have the heart to tell her she’s wasting her breath. I can hear her smiling. She doesn’t believe a word she’s reading and there’s more to her than this tired sales pitch.

    “A great offer wouldn’t you say, Mr. Glover?” she asks.

    “Uhhh . . . How did you get my name?” I couldn’t contain the surprise in my voice.

    “Oh, we have a listing and your name came up,” she explains.

    “Oh you do . . . ?”

    “Yes . . .”

    She says yes as if she were leading me somewhere. In a sarcastic tone, I tell her, “Well, I wish I had the listing with your name and number, so I could sell you something.”

    “Oh well, I don’t know about that.”

    I’ve ruined her script. Now she’ll have to improvise.

    “Sharon is it?”


    There she goes again. ”Are you going to show me around the store if I visit?” I ask.

    “Well actually, with your permission, I can send a salesperson to your house to talk with you.”

    In my little boyish, excited voice, I ask, “Oh, will you be there too?”

    In an almost disappointed manner, she answers, “No, I have to stay here with the phones.”

    “That’s a shame . . . I’m sure you’re a much more capable saleslady in person than over the phone.”

    “Well, what are you trying to say, Mr. Glover? I’m terrible over the phone?” she asks in a defensive tone.

    “No . . . I think you have a very engaging voice. That’s why I listened to you read all those lines. You have the kind of voice I could listen to all night.” Nice save, I hope.

    “Well, thank you. I think.”

    “I wish I could hear from you again sometime.”

    “Hmm . . . Maybe, but let’s get back to business first.”

    “Okay, let’s do that.”

    “What is the best time for one of my salespeople to visit?”

    Whoa, the idea of committing time to some guy in a polyester suit trying to sell me cheap appliances I can’t afford sounds horrible. But I’ll help a sistah work a commission. “Umm, I’m usually free after church around one.”

    “Oh, you go to church?” she asks.

    “Yes. Not every Sunday like I should. I’m there most Sundays. What about you?”

    “Hmm. Me? Oh, well I grew up in church. I still make it once in while. Church is in your heart, you know. And with work and this second job and everything, I get worn out.”

    “Yeah. What’s your first job?” I ask.

    “School. Teaching pays the bills. This is just my side gig.”

    “Really . . . with the board? My mom’s a teacher too.” Oops, didn’t need to mention my sole source of support. I don’t want her to think I’m a momma’s boy or even get the idea that I live with Mom.

    “Oh yeah, what grade is she in?” She begins laughing at her choice of words. “I mean what grade does she teach?” she asks.

    “I think she teaches sophomores this year,” I reply.

    “Yeah, see, I could never teach high school. I’ll stick with the babies. First grade is as far as I’ll go.”

    “Yeah, they gotta be much easier.”

    “Oh, they are. I get up in the morning just to see those little faces, all bright and ready to learn.”

    I can hear the child-like excitement in her voice. “I bet you do, you sound like an enthusiastic person. Kids probably have a good time with you.”

    “Yes, we do.” Maneuvering the conversation elsewhere, she asks, “What are you listening to in the background?”

    “Anita Baker. I’m a big fan of hers.

    “Perhaps, you could use a new stereo to hear her better. One of my guys should be able to help you out,” she says.

    I notice how quickly she slipped back into sales mode.

    “We’ll see. I’m pretty discriminating with stereo equipment. Problem is I get a little too picky and start taking things apart. Sometimes I ruin them.

    “Oh, you’re one of those. I know someone like that. I guess things don’t get loud enough for you guys.”

    “Something like that . . . Anyways I’m hungry. Are you hungry? What would you like for me to cook for you, Sharon?” I ask with all my “tease and please” insinuations in full effect.

    “I think we’ll have to discuss this at a later time.”

    “So, you do think we could talk some more?” I ask.

    “I think it could be arranged since I already have your number.”

    “Please feel free. Use it,” I say using my Svengoli voice.

    “So, let’s say Sunday between say two o’ clock and Three o’clock?


    “Yes . . . well, you have a good evening, Mr. Glover.”

    Boldly her, “Umm, you should be calling me Nathaniel.” You should be calling me baby is what I want to say.

    “Nathaniel . . . Pretty distinguishing. Oh yeah, I see it here, Nathaniel Glover. Okay, well, I’ll be speaking to you soon, Mr. Glover.”

    “Okay, Sharon.”


    She won’t call, oh well, nice flirting with her though.

    Please
  2. $$RICH$$

    $$RICH$$ Lyon King Admin. STAFF

    United States
    Mar 21, 2001
    Likes Received:
    BUSINESS owner
    dis was very well posed
    love how u told the story
    that captured my mind
  3. Black Orpheus

    Black Orpheus Member MEMBER

    Jun 21, 2002
    Likes Received:
    Thanks you so much $$RiCH$$
    Hopefully a little of that $$$ we'll come my way (-:
  4. $$RICH$$

    $$RICH$$ Lyon King Admin. STAFF

    United States
    Mar 21, 2001
    Likes Received:
    BUSINESS owner
    wit flowz like dis surely it will the treasures from almighty
    will give u the continue knowledge & wisdom to stardom
    but for now have a few of mines $$$$$$$
  5. Black Orpheus

    Black Orpheus Member MEMBER

    Jun 21, 2002
    Likes Received:

    Chapter Two​

    10 :45 PM and mom is knocked out sleep in her bedroom. My fingertips flip through my stereo and mom’s women magazines to fill my mind with a constant stream of words, information and advice. Searching in hopes of finding the magic words to change the course of my questionable future. The phone ringing effectively disturbs my solitude study. Who is this? I don’t mind conversation, so I answer.

    The female voice says, "Hello, Mr. Glover, this is Sharon Lamar."

    "Oh, you're not going to try to sell me something tonight, are you?" I ask, trying to mimic the playful attitude she answered with earlier.

    She replies, "No, I'm just making a social call this time. So glad to be off work. Is this a good time to call you? I know it’s kinda late."

    "Oh sure…just up reading a magazine."

    "Oh, well I can let you go if you're too busy."

    Why do they always pull your chain knowing full well you’re interested? "No…I've been looking forward to hearing your voice again, Sharon. I really didn’t think you'd call me."

    "Well, you sound like a nice enough young guy, I wouldn’t mind talking to. So, what you reading?” She asks.

    “Actually, I’m reading “Essence”. Gettin a little insight on the female psyche,” I say.

    She quickly replies, “You’re gonna have to read through a lot of magazines to figure that out.”

    Nice shot. I laugh and say, “Yeah, well, you know how beautifully complex you all can be.”

    "That’s cool. I had a male friend, who used to keep a bunch of subscriptions to women’s magazine. “Cosmo”, “Essence”...”

    I ask her, “So, is this about the time you get home?”

    “Yeah, I don’t get off until about 10:30-11 o’clock.”

    “Hey, I guess you gotta do what you gotta do,” I casually say.

    “Yeah, I’m trying to make some extra money. Pay off some old bills. I owe a lot of back taxes because the guy doing my taxes was shady.

    “Man… Bad things always seem to happen to good people.”

    Realizing I speaking to a complete stranger, I ask her, “Ummm…so, who are you exactly?”

    "Well, I'm Sharon Lamar, the lady who call you this evening, don’t you remember?" She asks.

    "Of course, I do…but who are you, Sharon? I know your name but who is the real Sharon."

    "Well, let's see… I told you I am a grade school teacher. I've been teaching for fifteen years."

    Calculating years involved, I simply reply, "Wow…"

    "Yes. And I'm a single mother"

    Calculating the complications involved, I respond, "Oh."

    "Yes, I have one son named Lance."

    With thoughts of playing catch with the little guy, I ask, "How old is he?"

    She proudly states, "He’s twenty. Yeah, he’s never hardly home."
    I guess she wants to let me know he would not be in the way. "Question. I know it's not polite to ask a lady this...but how old are you?" I ask. In a Divaesque way, she replies, "I'm proud to say I have reached thirty-eight years of age and lookin good." There’s jazz in her voice. The way a “Quiet Storm” female deejay sounds on late night radio. I could end this now or follow my curiosity. It's only a phone call. She could be fine. Lord knows I do have an older woman fantasy.

    "Hey. Alright..,” I reply.

    "And how old are you, Mr. Glover?" She asks.

    I factiously answer, "Old enough"

    "Okay… Somewhere between thirty and forty?"

    Realizing the attitude behind my last respond, I clarify a little, “Yeah, something like that…”
    “You trying to be mysterious or something?” She questions.

    “Trying… Give you something to wonder about. I’ll tell you soon enough.”

    “Well, I’ll tell you this ...the only way I’d deal with a younger man is if he had something on the ball,” She states.

    “Something on the ball?” I ask.

    “Like, a decent job or in school. Not hanging out on the street corner somewhere beggin for change, robbin and stealin, or selling drugs. So, do you have something on the ball, Nathaniel?”

    “Of course, I’m not there all the way but I do go to work everyday and I’m trying to go back to school soon...” I say knowing I could easily fall into the line of characters she mentioned.

    She asks, “Where do you work?”

    “I work at a law firm as a file clerk,” I answer.

    “Oh, that’s good,” She replies.

    “Yeah, my mom got sued awhile ago and her lawyer hired me after the case was over.”

    In an affirmative tone, she declares, “Oh, Okay. ‘Cause we don’t need to talk any further my brother, if you’re still at home with your parents.” In response to her last statement, I continue, “No, I’ve been on my own since I was sixteen. I’ve got my own place. And I’ve been just making it.”

    “Wow, that’s pretty good. You still didn’t tell me how old you are.”
    “Ooops. I forgot.”

    “Yeah…okay. You’re not playing fair Mr. Glover.”

    “I have a birthday coming up soon.”

    “When’s your birthday?” She asks.

    “December, the sixteenth,” I reply.

    In a playful voice, she responds, “Uh-oh”

    “Yeah, I’m one of those crazy half men, half beast people.”

    “I get along pretty well with all zodiac signs.”

    “That’s good…when’s your birthday?” I ask

    “February Twenty-seven. Just remember the show “227,” She told me.

    “I’ll write that down. What sign is that?” I ask.

    “Umm, I’m from the planet Neptune,” She replies.

    I jokingly play along with her and ask, “Oh, that’s nice, honey but what’s your sign?”

    Smiling with me, she says, “ Pisces”

    “Oh, okay…does that mean you get mad all the time?” I ask her.

    “No…But, if you rub me the wrong way. I will tell you about yourself. I’m not an angry person. I used to let people walk over me but I got tired of it. Life is too short,” She states.

    “Yeah, but anger is a primitive emotion,” I respond.

    “True, but it’s better to let someone know immediately that you feel wronged than to let them sit up there and piss all over you. Let it built up inside and fester. That’s not good.”

    “This is true. But I rarely let myself get to that point. If someone pisses me off. I’ll just walk out the door and keep going. I don’t have time to waste on static,” I state.

    “That’s one way to do it,” She replies.

    “I mean why should get my blood pressure go sky high just because someone wants to act a fool?” I ask.

    “Do you have high blood pressure?” She asks.

    “I’m borderline high. You know like most black folks. I’m not on medication or anything. It’s not really a problem,” I reply.

    “I used to have this friend who was a health nut guru and he put me on a vegetarian diet. And I haven’t been the same since.” She laughs and goes on, “ I mean I have much more energy than I did growing up with all that candy and junk food. And the work I’ve had to have on my mouth was enough,” She states.

    I respond, “I hear you. I’ve always wanted to try getting a colonic. I had this book by Beverly Johnson and she just went on and on about the benefits of colon therapy. You’re supposed to feel light enough to float on air and have endless energy.”

    “It almost sounds good accept for the way they do it. But Beverly Johnson was my idol when I was in the business” She states.

    I compellingly ask her, “You used to model?”

    “Yeah, I still do from time to time,” She responds.

    Painting pictures in my mind, I respond, “Wow, you must beautiful or something.”
    She coyly says. “Or something, huh? Some people think so. I don’t look my age at all. One time, I was at the mall with my son and all his buddies thought I was his girlfriend. Lance was like ‘That’s my mama, man!’ We always get mixed up as brother and sister.”

    My curiosity peaks and I asks her, “Hmmm. who do you look like?” In self-ascertaining tone, she boldly states, “ I look like me. I have blond hair right now.” My stop sign goes up and I point blank ask, “Oh…wait a minute…are you white?” She coyly replies, “Maybe…” All man she’s older and white too. Okay, I give up the game. Mom’s gonna flip if I bring this one home. Unable to contain the suspense, I further prod her, “Well, are you?” She keeps the cool in her voice, and says, “What do you think? ”

    “I don’t know with your voice could go either way,” I answer.

    “See, I can be mysterious too. What does it take to make a person Black?”

    Oh, she presents a challenge. I could go silly or intellectual with this. I expound on my philosophy, “Being Black in this country has more to do with an experience and past we all share than skin color. I mean it should be just a skin color and the differences shouldn’t go beyond that. But some folks decided that’s too different…there’s a problem. The money’s green. Somebody’s white. This one is yellow. This one is brown and that one is Blacky-black-black. That’s what makes a Black person... a black person,” I state. “Who else but a brother gets car lock clicks every time he walks by a car? I was walking downtown last week and heard four or five different car locks clicking on me.
    What? I’m supposed to jump in the car with them?” I ask. Then I jokingly reiterate, “Well… I started to. But, hell, I didn’t need a ride that bad. I bet one them was you.”

    She laughs, “ I don’t think so. You sound pretty aware my brother”

    I respond, “I try…I’ve been a card carrying PUSH member for years.”

    She quickly cheers, “Allright…”

    “Never make it to the meetings. But I have the membership card,” I reply.

    Ahhh... She laughs.

    “What kind of car, you drive?” I ask.

    “A Nineteen-eighty-eight Ford Taurus,” She answers.

    “I don’t think I’ve heard of that one.”

    “You've never seen one? It’s been rated N:confused:ne in all the car magazines,” She states.

    “No, can’t say I’ve seen it.”

    “Well, maybe I’ll let you take a ride in it one day.”

    Oh, I’m getting somewhere. Glad she didn’t ask me what kind of car I have. The big green limousine with coin deposit box will not impress. She digs deeper and asks, “What kind of car do you drive, sir?” Too late…I go further into my bag of lies and pull out this old classic response, “My car is still in the shop. It’s a Dodge.” Please don’t dig any further.

    Already, I’ve taken on another personality. I’ve got this woman thinking I’m somewhere between thirty and forty, I have a job at a law firm, my own place, and I’m interested in buy a new stereo from her. She thinks I have car and I don’t even know how to drive. And now I’m supposed to be a member of PUSH. Well, mom is.

    A MBA might call this marketing. A player calls it a play. A liar calls it bending the truth. A real man calls it a straight-up lie. I call it a means to an end. What does it make me? Pitiful, I know. Still, her interest in me should not be based on lies.

    If she knew the truth we wouldn’t be talking now. I’m flashing a fake ID to get in the club. Once inside, it’s up to me win the dance contest. When she sees the real me...all the lies it took to get there, won’t matter. It’s a dirty trick but it’s a good one. But still, I hate to start something wonderful with lies.

    “You know my real name is not Sharon,” She says in a matter of fact way.

    Disorientated by her statement, I question her, “Okay. Who are you?”

    “Well, only my real friends know my real name,” She states.

    “Well, I hope we can be friends,” I reply.

    “I think we sound like a decent person.”

    “I always thought I was. ...What is your name, sweetness?” I ask.

    She slowly brings the name to my ear. “Faye...”

    “ sound like a Faye too. Ummm...hmmm. What’s the rest of it, Faye?” I ask.

    In a trance-like voice, she repeats, “Faye.”

    “Just Faye. One word. Like Cher?” I ask.

    She coils up the phone wire and replies, “Sort of.”

    “Here goes that mystery thing again.”

    She starts up her laugh again, “You started it”

    “Ahhh, you don’t want me to start stalking you or something.”

    “Well, a single girl has to protect herself. I mean you sound like a nice guy and all but you never know these days.”
    “I understand. Though this does leave me at a disadvantage because you have my information and I’ve just found out your first name. Behind my past experiences, I should be the one worried about you stalking me,” I say.

    “Why?” She asks.

    “I’ve been stalk twice. My Ex-girlfriend and some crazed homosexual hairdresser I thought was a woman.”

    “How ‘d you let that one slip? Or how did you slip by that one?” She jokingly asks.

    “Yeah, right. We met by accident over the phone and he had a very feminine voice. Which reminds me to drill you over a few qualifying questions.”

    Before I could begin, Faye forcefully interjects, “No, I’m not a man nor have I ever been. I’m a natural woman.”

    Hoping to disarm her reaction with humor, I factiously throw her female status back at her, and say, “Okay, woman. Just making sure we’re compatible.” I wanted to say make all the parts fit but I didn’t want to come too fast too soon and scare her away.

    I finish telling her about the man I thought was a woman. I start telling her about my stalker girlfriend in high school. She says she doesn’t wish to hear about my “old” high school love memoirs. She wants to hear about recent events in my adult life. Trouble is I just got here – Adulthood.

    I question her, “Have you ever been tempted to cross that line and go the other way?”

    “Gettin it on with a female. Please. I had a friend in High School. We were walking downtown and saw these mannequins in Carson’s window in underwear hugged up close and she looked at me and goes ‘You wanna try that with me?’ And I’m like ‘Hell no!’ She’s like ‘Ah, come on Faye.’ ‘Come on nothing. Uh-huh, Sarah, I don’t play that, girl.’ And I never spoke to her again. She was cool until she started that mess,” She states.

    “Well, you did have to push her away. Yaw, could’ve been friends still.”

    “Yeah, but I was young and didn’t know nothing about that kinda stuff and wasn’t about to learn either. Well, let me ask you. Were you tempted to go the other way with this man?” She asks.
    “Oh, hell naw. I love women. All types of women,” I proudly state.
    I continue and say, “I can’t get into men. I’ve always had a thing for women since I was a little boy. Now, I might have some feminine tendencies about myself because I was raised around women.
    I mean I’m in touch with my feminine side as well as male side. Like, I workout and afterwards, treat myself to a bath with the scented candles and herbal oils. Get out my massage beads and relieve some stress.”

    “Oh, you do, huh?” She asks.

    I respond, “Yeah, I need it after the end of the day. It’s a little ritual I go through every day.”

    I read somewhere this kind of thing gets to a woman because she now wonders how well she‘ll be treated based on well I take care of myself. It’s true I do the luxury baths minus the candles.

    “The massage part sounds good, if the masseur knows what they’re doing,” She says.

    “Well, I‘ve studied some techniques on myself but I’m really in need of a partner to practice with,” I say thinking the invitation will startle her.

    “Well, who knows...if you play your cards right someone might be volunteering soon,” She responds.
    Oh, Tingles to my spine. I don’t know whether to reply or shut up and ease into another conversation. Faye continues and states, “Of course, I know a little about massage myself. I can loosen a knot pretty easy. Does wonders for the body. But I might have to tell you something about myself if we ever get far.”
    “What?” I ask.

    “Oh, I’ll let you know when the time is right.”

    I sarcastically reply, “Well gee, if there wasn’t enough mystery about you.”

    In her most devilish laugh... “Okay. I’m kinda skinny. But I get teased a lot for having a big chest.”

    Oh yes! My fantasy has arrived. I calm my reaction and reply, “Oh...”

    “Yeah... They feel great to me but people are telling me all the time I should gone on and get a breast reduction.”

    “Oh, see I disagree. I don’t believe in altering anything God blesses you with.”

    If she looks anything close to the picture in my mind, may the wrath of God strike down any surgeon thinking of it.
    “Yeah, I guess, you’re right,” She agrees.

    I reaffirm, “I know I’m right.”

    Man, I could bury my head in those fruities right now. Oh, she’s still talking. I test the waters and confess to her, “You’re putting thoughts in my mind.”

    “Oh, yeah, kinda of thoughts?” She asks with her words wrapped in silk.

    I hesitate to think up a cute way to express my excitement over my image of her.... I say, “Naughty ones.”

    “Oh, see. Typical man. Looking for big boobs and small waist,” She blares out.

    I try to recover and tell her, “Uhh...No! I’m just going by what you’re telling me.”

    “See… that’s why I said that. To see how much of a turn on it is to you.”

    Clearly caught off guard, I mumble, “No, well I mean...” At a loss for a more tactful explanation, I reluctantly confess, “Yes, it’s true. What man doesn’t look at a woman with a stack? But I’m attracted to many different types. Flat-chest women too. I mean Laura Hutton has been turning me on for years.”

    “My ex used like her too. Used to get on my nerves,” She expresses in disenchantment.

    “I mean what’s on your mind is more apt to turn me on rather than how fine you are.” I didn’t mean to personalize that statement towards her. I further explain, “I mean I have seen some of the finest women around. I’m all ready to talk to them and get to know them. They start talking. And all this garbage comes out. Ruins my whole mood.”

    “The same goes for me. And I can’t stand a pretty boy who needs to be in the mirror all the time. That mess gets on my nerve,” She says.

    “Can’t stop trying to kiss themselves. Yeah, I know. Now, someone who can sit down. Talk to me about what ever. The drive home, what’s going on in their day, what’s their favorite color. I mean if you talk enough, I go to another world just by listening to you,” I say.

    “Hmm... Most people I say I talk to too much.”

    “How so? You gossip?” I ask.

    “No, I’m not a catty person. Well, I am a cat woman as in own a cat. But I don’t go around talking about she said this and he said that. No. I don’t have time for that. It’s just a bunch of bull. I guess that’s why I don’t have too many girlfriends.”

    “Ahhh, are you a lonely girl?” I ask. Performing in my clown voice, I sing “Hey there, lonely girl.”
    “No.... I spend a lot of time alone. But I’m not lonely,” She replies.

    “What’s a typical Saturday like for you?” I ask.

    “Hmmm.... I usually stay sleep until I just have to go somewhere,” She states almost in defense of her stance. Faye gently explains, “Weekends are my re-coup time. Maybe, once in awhile, I’ll make it to one the sets. Can you dance?” She asks.

    “Yeah...I dance everyday. I don’t do clubs much anymore. I workout and dance in the house. All the more reason, I need a new stereo, Miss Sharon.”

    “I told you that’s not my name,” She replies.

    “Just wanted to tap into your alter ego. What’s your cat’s name?” I ask.

    Faye starts laughing again and says. “ Poney.”

    “What’s so funny?” I ask in all sincerity knowing I should sense the humor in the word “Poney”.

    She blurs out, “Poney. You know poonani. Pone. *****.”

    Oh, she hit a nerve saying that word. Wipe the seat and stay down boy. No one’s talking to you. She explains, “My boyfriend at the time named her that. We got her from old Mississippi. She’s a Siamese. I’ll know if you’re cool if she meets you. Cause Poney can spot the wrong guy quick.”

    “I love cats. Never had one but I’m a cat person more than a dog guy,” I state.

    “Oh, We had a dog too named Farley. You would have cracked up if you saw him. He had a small head and a long body. He was a sausage dog. I’ll never forget the day I came home and Lance found him dead in the street. He had the biggest tears in his eyes.”

    Imitating Lance as a little boy, she says, “Oh, mom, Farley died.” She continues. “Then we both started crying. I swear the saddest days of my life is when that boy would cry.”

    “And you raised him by yourself,” I say.

    “Yeah, me and my mom. It seems like me and Lance grew up together.” He was such a happy baby. Riding up front with me in the car, smiling at everyone he could see,” She says as if she longs to see those days again.

    “What about his dad?” I ask.

    “Well, his dad was my first love. Charles. I was in all girls’ school Lucy Collins and you know how boys would come there looking for desperate boy crazy girls, figuring all of us were hard up. So, my sisters Deanna and Leslie were already on the pill. I wasn’t. ‘Cause I told my momma, I wasn’t doing anything and wouldn’t. I’m older than Leslie and mama already knew she was doing something. She hurried up and got her on the pill. Deanna being the straight A student she was, decided not to take a chance getting pregnant and got on the pill away. ” She states.

    “Smart girl,” I reply.

    “Yeah, until she got married but that’s another story. Now I didn’t. Cause I didn’t even like boys. After a couple of weeks, me and Charles Alexander started talking and I just fell for him. We went over one of his friend’s place one night and had one of the worst three minutes of my life. I walked about twelve blocks home and said I’d never do that again,” Faye says.

    I wonder if this is a good time to lay my virgin status on her. Add some freshness to her life. Such a turn-on. Who wouldn’t want to just open up someone and turn him or her out? And you don’t have to worry too much about STDs because of the freshness.
    At least that’s what you’re told to believe. But she’ll figure that out just by my reactions. But will she go for me being as old as I am being a virgin?
    Well Pro basketball player, A.C. Green proclaims his virginity. Why can’t I? It’s believable enough. I’ll wait. Can’t give it all up on one night.
    Faye continues, “Four months later, I started showing. My mom came home from work, saw me sleep on couch and knew what was going on. She woke me up and we talked for along time. I decided to keep it. I told Charles. He said he wanted quit school and go work at the Tootsie Roll factory. He tried for a while. Got fired. Then his brother talked to him and next thing I know- He left for the army. I tried writing to him and he never did write me back. His parents and his brothers act like they never knew me or Lance.”

    She pauses for a brief moment and continues, “Then about three years later, I had Lance and my niece at Carson’s and he taps me on my shoulder. “Hey, baby, is this--?” And before he could let the word come out of his mouth I told him “No! This is me and my momma’s son. And we don’t want anything to do with you” and left. Never seen or heard from him since. And I know it may catch up to me one day, but I’m glad I never let him see his father because he might just have ended up just like him. A thug. A nobody.”

    Almost apologetically, she says, “ I try to keep as many positive brothers in my son life as possible. He’s the only male child in the family. We’d go see my dad when we could. But I don’t think I did such a bad job raising him by myself.”

    I could feel her heart through the phone. If she starts crying, I’ll join her for sure. I reply a serious tone,“ No, I don’t think you did either. And from his perspective he might not take not having a dad that hard. How can you miss what you never had? I mean my mom raised me by herself and most of the time I don’t feel I missed out on anything. But I had uncles to rely on too.”

    She responds, “Yeah, see Lance, didn’t have an uncle. Just a bunch of Aunts and girls for cousins. So, I did my best showing how to be a man. Taking him to baseball games. Now he goes with his friends every spare moment. In his bucket.”

    Minutes turn into seconds. It's four in the morning before we realize how late it is. Hadn’t done that since high school. Her stories fill me with colors, tickles, emotion, and faded memories made fresh again.

    For more please visit Bittersweet Water or
  6. $$RICH$$

    $$RICH$$ Lyon King Admin. STAFF

    United States
    Mar 21, 2001
    Likes Received:
    BUSINESS owner
    truely i'm lovin the way u tell da story it gives a feeling
    throughout my soul do yo thang as u do coz da $$RICH$$ one
    be watching u)))>>>>$R
  7. Black Orpheus

    Black Orpheus Member MEMBER

    Jun 21, 2002
    Likes Received:
    Request to $Rich$

    Brotha, may I please re-post your dope reviews, website and e-mail address on my website . I'll post the next chapter next Tuesday.
  8. $$RICH$$

    $$RICH$$ Lyon King Admin. STAFF

    United States
    Mar 21, 2001
    Likes Received:
    BUSINESS owner
    sure u may , i'll be looking forward to the next flow from that
    poetic pen my dear Queeneth.......
  9. $$RICH$$

    $$RICH$$ Lyon King Admin. STAFF

    United States
    Mar 21, 2001
    Likes Received:
    BUSINESS owner
    do stop by my domain and sign my guessbook
  10. Black Orpheus

    Black Orpheus Member MEMBER

    Jun 21, 2002
    Likes Received:
    Bittersweet Water Chapter Three

    Please visit .Bittersweet

    Chapter Three

    T onight, we share our fears. She tells me about her innate fear of spiders. I promise to kill every spider she encounters from now on. I share my fear of rodents especially rats. She recalls a “Judo” rat encountered when she was a nine-years old in one of the many apartments her family moved to on the Westside of Chicago.

    The “Judo” rat was sticking its nose out of the toilet. After persistent pushing, the huge rodent edged out of the toilet but its one fat hind leg did not escape the toilet. Little Faye doused the vermin with ammonia and it began a piercing scream. The huge rodent started swinging wildly at her with its fore legs. She found enough courage to slam the toilet seat on its head. After a couple of hours, it died. His fur turned white from the ammonia and bleach. I didn’t want to know how they got rid of it.

    I share my fear of seeing “The Elephant Man” and how traumatized I was from watching the movie at age eleven. And even now at this age, I go through a slight depression at the sight of Joseph Merrick’s face. She actually understands even though she never saw the man. She promises when I’m ready to, she’ll watch the movie with me. This fear probably comes more from the way he was treated as less than human rather than his appearance. Along with the fact that I’m also shocked by his appearance and wonder if I would have mistreated him.

    We move on into pet peeves…

    “My number one pet peeve is when my man tips out on me with another woman," she plainly states. "I’m possessive meaning my man belongs to me and me only. If you can’t stay true blue, then I don’t need to be with you. It’s been done to me a couple of times and I don’t like it. I never will put up with it.”

    I turn the script on her and ask, “What about you? Have you ever cheated on someone?”

    She quickly answers, “No. I only deal with one man at a time. If he’s not doing right by me, I’ll let him go first before I go to the next man. Hanging on to a man while sleeping with another one just messes up things and I’ve never been that way. I mean, when Von was doing his thing and I hadn’t seen him in weeks, I knew he had been sneakin on me. But I wouldn’t put myself down to his level. And there was this sweet guy named Raphael, I used to dance with all the time. We were good friends cause we both danced and bopped at the clubs.

    She laughs to herself and continues, “One night when I was really mad at Von, I let Raphael take me home and we sat around, listening to quiet music. Kissed a little bit but as sweet as he was I had to show him the door cause I still had unfinished business with Von. He understood and left. He let me know he was ready to step in but he waited.”

    I take her words in. I want to believe her about Raphael. I’m sure they played around a little but I believe she didn’t go all the way that night. In a way, I’m proud she has scruples. Feeling a little sense that I can trust her with my secrets.

    She continues and states, “My next pet peeve is lying. I can’t stand a liar.”

    I don’t know what the punishment is for this and would hate to find out. The next week after she tells me her hatred for lying she catches me in one.

    “Nate, don’t play with me. Be honest. ‘Cause this has been bothering me all day. I called you yesterday and this lady answered the phone. I didn’t know who she was so I told her I was Sharon Lamar and you had made arrangements to buy a stereo. She was like “Oh did he now? Well, Nathaniel’s not buying anything.” Who is this woman, Nate?” Faye asks.

    ****. I knew this would happen. That’s it. It’s over. She knows I lied now. Time to fess up. “That was my mother, Faye,” I confess.

    “Your mother. So you do live at home with your mother?” she asks.

    “Yeah. I didn’t think you’d go for that idea so I told a fib. I’m sorry.”

    “Well, that’s not as bad as I was thinking." She sighs in relief and continues. "I’m almost about to go through a stoplight thinking- is he married? Is this his girlfriend?”

    In my remorse, I tell her, “I sorry I should have told you that from jumpstreet.”

    “It's Okay. We all stretch the truth sometimes. No big deal. Just don’t make a habit out of it,” she says in a calm but firm manner.

    She drops it and we go on with our almost nightly six-hour phone conversations. I don’t know how she makes it to work. I have grown more love for the night. The anticipation of hearing her voice wouldn't let me sleep.

    The need to feel her touch and her body on mine is swelling in me now. Before the moon and I met her, I wandered aimlessly through the night. The animal in me had no mate to hunt with. Only prey to stalk. Now my eyes stay focused with a purpose. And there is no real sleep without her.

    Knowing how formidable dads are to their little girl’s expectations of men, I ask her about her Dad. Faye smiles through the phone, “He was a sweet man. He always was.” She clears her throat and imitates Arsenio Hall, “ Would you please give it up for Mr. Rufus Thomas.”

    “My Dad always took us out for ice cream. Sneaked me candy. Never let anyone cuss around us. One thing for sure, he always followed through with whatever he said. Very consistent. If he said he was going to buy you the moon, you better make the space ‘cause you’d have a moon in your room,” she says.

    She continues and says, “If he told us not to do something and we’d do it anyway, we’d get punished no matter what. I remember when him and Momma worked opposite shifts and he’d be home with us in the evening. The day before Halloween, he told us if we didn’t have our room clean, homework and the dishes done by five ‘o clock tomorrow, we weren’t going trick or treatin.”

    She laughs and says, “The next day, clothes all over the bed, dishes in the sink and we’re scrambling trying to turn off the record player and pretend we’re busy doing homework. Leslie trying to throw all the clothes in the closet. Nobody bothered trying to do dishes. We figured we could con him into letting us go. Do you know we ended up, looking out the window all sad, watching the other kids get all the candy? No mercy, even on Halloween.”

    “It was good for you,” I reply.

    “Yes, but on Halloween, Nathaniel?” she asks as if I was Rufus. Faye continues, “That’s one of the happiest times of a kid’s life. I’ll never forget that one. See, Daddy didn’t play. He didn’t hit us, so he made Momma do the dirty work but he got his point across.”

    I smile and say, “Oh, momma tore yaw butts up.”

    She laughs and says, “Yeah, but me and Daddy got real close when I was about nine and had to have surgery on my back.”

    I curl up to the receiver and say, “And you became a Daddy’s girl.”

    Thinking back, she says, “Yeah, one day after a bath, he looked at my back and saw a curve in my spine. And up until then, you had one choice for curvature of the spine- grow up a hunchback. And me and two other children got picked for a new experimental surgery.”

    Intrigued by her surgery, I say, “Oh, I think I heard about this. John Cougar Mellancamp had this done when he was a kid.”

    “Yep and if you ever seen “Looking for Mr. Goodbar”, the girl Diane Keaton played had it done too. And the risk was either a straightened spinal column or roll around in a wheelchair for the rest of your life.”

    “God…But you’re alright now, right?” I ask.

    Faye responds, “Oh, yeah. I jump around, run, ski, dance etc. I just have like a dip in my lower back and a small scar on my leg where they took the cartilage. So, my Dad stayed with me everyday at the hospital for six-months. Reading me stories, comics, sneaking in barbecue chicken legs. We got to be real close buddies.”

    Thinking of a poor little mummy girl, I ask, “Mmm, and they had you in a body cast and traction and everything?”

    “Yep, I couldn’t move for one year. They had a special bed made for me in the apartment and I had to be turned every hour. Change my bedpan. Feed me. I had to depend on everyone. ” Faye says.

    I respond, “Geez, for all that time, that had to make you into a strong little character.”

    “I think so. I had to put up with a lot of frustration and sadness watching all the other kids walking around, going places. I found peace in there somewhere. I think alot of it, I’ve blocked out. So, from age nine to ten, I have no memories.”

    “Ummm...So where is your Dad now?” I ask.

    In a low tone, she responds, “In heaven”

    “Ooo. Sorry to hear that,” I apologize.

    “I’m just glad Lance got to meet his Grandpa before he died. He died of lung cancer in eighty-three. They liked each other a lot. .'Mom, when we gonna see grandpa?' It took my breath away when I walked in the middle of his funeral.
    A friend drove me down East St Louis where he lived and when we walked in there I nearly fainted because you just never expect to see someone so close to you, your own flesh and blood, lying in dead in a casket. I couldn’t get momma to go with us,” she says.

    Feeling hurt for her dad by now, I quickly ask, “ Why not?”

    “Oh, they had long been divorced. He was the last man she really loved. Daddy had a real bad gambling problem. He’d always lose that paycheck-shooting craps and crapping out. Momma having to beg and plead with the landlord to let us stay. I think that’s why we had to move so much. We’d come home from church and there he’d be. On the floor, stinking from drinking and gambling all night. The drinking wasn’t as bad cause he’d go on binges every now and then, but after driving cement trucks all week and not having a dime to show for it. Momma had enough. One day, she got us all packed and we just left. I kept beggin and cryin, ‘We can’t just leave him like that Momma.’ But her mind was made up.”

    “She was through,” I reply

    “Yeah...He’d try to come by. Write her letters. Leave some money. But she’d just go in her room and close her door with out a word or look his way. I know her heart was breaking. I heard her crying. She wouldn’t cry around us,” she says.

    I salute her mom and say, “Strong Momma. Yeah that’s the way you have to be sometimes for your children.”

    Through her account of her dad, I knew she wants a man who will stick by her through storms. From what she told me of her mother, I knew where her independent streak came from. And where she would never depend on a man for her living. Made me wonder, who came close and how did the mess up come in?

    I ask Faye, “When was your last serious relationship?”

    “Oh, I was engaged once. His name was John. He was working as a security guard at my old school, Rosewood. He was tall, dark skinned. Eight years younger than me. We got to talking and he kept asking me out. Finally, I went out with him and got to know him better.”

    She slows her voice and says, “He’d come around and start helping me with my garden, cutting the grass, diggin up weeds, planting flowers with me. Momma just fell in love with him. She still talks about him to this day. Them two got really close. So did Lance. As he started coming around more, we got closer. Eventually we got engaged and all hell broke loose.”

    She clears her throat and says, “We’d spend hours arguing about the wedding and how he thought his wife should be. Three months before the big date, he finally tells me about how we’re going to have four kids. And we’re selling this house and moving into this apartment building his uncle helped him buy. This is the first I’ve heard about an apartment building. I just start feeling like I was with someone who was gonna control every aspect of my life without even letting me know.”

    I sigh, “He wouldn’t let you breathe.”

    With some anger in her tone, she says, “Yeah…He wanted dinner on the table everyday. House spotless. I asked him, ‘John, what about my teaching career?’ and he’d say, ‘Oh, you don’t need to work. You’ll have to quit.’ Every time I’d think about that date, I’d get sick to my stomach. Then one time, we got into a fight. I got so mad at him I threw a lamp at his head.”

    I flinch at the vision of this. “Whoa, see I knew you, Pisces can bust hell loose.”

    “I told you. Don’t start none. Won’t be none.”

    “I know ‘cause you’d bash my head in otherwise.”

    In her playful voice, “I’m gonna get you. As soon as I see you, I’m gonna give you a spanking.”

    In my naughty but sincere voice, “Oh, Faye, you mean it?”

    “Yep, right on the derriere my dear.”

    “That’s what I love about teachers. You do something wrong they make you do it over and over again.”

    “That’s right. Practice makes perfect.”

    “Let me stop.”

    “Why? What are you afraid of?”

    As if she’s pulling my bed sheets away to reveal me. I feel slightly embarrassed and aroused. I bashfully reply, “Nothing. Go on and finish telling me about this John guy.”

    “Well, after I threw that lamp at him, he had to grab me and hold me still for awhile before I start swinging on him. Then as soon as he let me go, I ran out the house and got in the car,” she says.

    Faye impersonates a male voice, “Faye, Faye, please baby, just listen to me.” With more attitude and anger in her voice, she says, “I told him I can’t even stand to look at you anymore. What in the hell make you think I want to listen to you?” And I drove off. I get two blocks down and he comes right behind me in his jeep. Beeping the horn like a mad man. I hit the gas and before I knew it, we were in a car chase all up and down Division Street. Cuttin through alleys. Knockin over garbage cans. Going through stoplights. Just like the movies.”

    “Did you lose him?” I ask.

    “Finally. But that’s when I knew he was crazy. He was getting more and more insecure. After a few days, I brought myself to talk to him and gave him back his ring. We both cried that day.”

    With my slight disappointment, I ask, “And that was it?”

    “Well, we went out on dates and stuff but it was never the same.” she replies.

    I pause and think of what might be her idea of marriage now. “And how long ago was this?” I ask.

    “Oh, this was back in eighty-five, eighty-six I think. Yeah, because the Bears won the Super Bowl that year,” Faye answers.

    Geez, I was a junior in High school that year. I like to hear about a woman’s past relationships. How much has she gone through with men? How much damage has been done? How can I avoid making the same mistakes? Any smart man will want to know this. It sounds like a man has to know where he is with her. He must be aware of his power, his strength and his weaknesses. He must be aware of himself and be able to stand on his own. Is that me?

    “And after that there were no others?” I ask.

    Faye replies, “Well, after that. I stayed home a lot. Became a homebody. Depressed all the time. My friends brought this guy over. He was nice guy. Kinda sexy. He helped me get over it a little. But he had a drinking problem. It got to be too much.”

    “But you never talk to John anymore?” I ask.

    “Oh, he calls every now and then. Christmas time. Birthdays. But we’re in different lives now. What about you? Anyone special ever entered your heart?” Faye asks.

    I think back to high school, of course, and offer her a slightly modified answer. “Yeah, she was a good friend. Her name was Shayla. When I first met her, I thought she was one of the dumbest people on the planet. She was like a black Marilyn Monroe. I mean she actually seemed like Marilyn reincarnated Black. She said some of the dumbest things,” I say.

    Doing my best impersonation of Shayla’s little girl voice, “Did I do good?”

    I continue and describe Shayla to her, “Beautiful. Half Black. Half French-Light skinned.”

    With a slight bit of sarcasm in her voice, she asks, “Ummm, just like you like, huh?”

    “No... I like all the colors. But she came off dumb and that was a turn-off,” I state.

    “Nothing going on in there for you relate to,” Faye replies.

    “Nope.” I pause and think back to Shayla and continue, “Until I got to know her. The real her. I found out it was just an act. She was very intelligent. And at the time, I wasn’t on my best game. She took me aside and gave me the best motivational speech of my life. She said, ‘You know. You’re really smart. But you don’t do ****. Nate, there’s nothing you can’t do. You just don’t see yourself that way. I know you’re smart. You can’t fool me. Now if you don’t get it together by tomorrow, I'm gonna kick your ***.’ And she meant it with all sincerity. I couldn’t say anything.”

    Faye asks, “Did she get you?”

    I reply, “She didn’t have to. But I realized she was a real friend to me. Then she wanted more and up until then my relationships were short. I didn’t want to lose her by getting involved. But she kept on pressing. She was real shy about it too and I would turn her down kinda harsh. I'd ask, 'Did you have something to tell me?' She’d hesitate and go 'Ummm..well..' Then see the impatience in my face and go, 'No, I guess not. Not really.' Then I'd say something smart-*** like, 'That's just like you, Shayla. Call me over here to tell me nothing."

    Faye responds, “Ooo, Nate. That’s was cold.”

    I respond, “I know but I knew where she was going and I wanted us to stay friends. She waited a whole year. Then we got together. And then some of my friends were getting married. Then everyone started asking me when was I gonna get married. And I was like what are you talking about?”

    I lie down on the couch as if I’m going through therapy and continue with my story, “We were getting more and more serious. I felt the walls caving in. One night, I was out with my play sister, Karen, at a club and I don’t know. I just felt like showing my independence or something. I started flirting with every woman in the club.”

    “Then Karen was like ‘Someone's staring at you.’ I turn around and it’s Shayla. And as loud as the music was pumpin, she only whispered from across the room in shock and I heard her loud and clear. ‘Nathaniel…’

    “I grabbed Karen and tried to play it off like I didn’t see her. Karen tried to duck her big head through the crowd. Next day, I came over her house and tried to explain.”

    “She was like, ‘Well, I talking to someone else now.’ So, I was like, ‘Well bring him over. He can start you up and I’ll come in at the end and finish the job.’ ”

    Faye scold fully remarks, “You were hurt, trying to hurt her back.”

    “Yep. F’d it up big time. I went through so much heartache over that, I didn’t see anyone for three years. My mom was so disappointed cause she was thinking about all the pretty grandbabies she was going to have with good hair.”

    Faye clarifies my last statement, “You mean straight and stringy. Good hair is healthy hair. I can’t stand when people refer to straight hair as good hair. ”

    “I know. You’re right,” I concede.

    “Do you use chemicals on your hair?” she asks.

    "Yeah,” I answer.

    “Oh, boy, you don’t have it looking like some Super fly pimp daddy hairdo?” she asks.

    “I keep it neat. Slicked back into a ponytail. A lot more conservative than it used to be.”

    “Chemicals. That’s why my hair is damaged now,” she says.

    I reply, “It's better than pressing. I remember Milton Johnson used to come to school with his hair straight from pressing. After recess, he'd get sweaty from running around. Then when we had to get in line. With temperatures outside always being on the low side and his sweat drippings, Milton's head started smokin. That's how he got the name Smokin Johnson. By the time we got back into class, he'd have an afro like the rest of us."

    In an almost tearful laugh, she says, "Yeah, I remember momma being mad at us after a party. Coming home hair nappy from the sweat. Finally when Angela Davis started getting notice, I let my hair grow natural. Big and Red just like her."

    Feeling close to where I could see myself falling for this late-night voice. I think up all the things that might spoil this romance. I finally ask her, “Have you ever done drugs before?”

    Faye laughs and says, “I used to be a pot-head back in college. Partying like a fool at Southern Illinois. Just about every weekend. I had to get it together by senior year though.”

    With a bit of sadness in my voice, I interrupt her, “Yeah, I lost a lot of friends to that junk. At first, I used to try to talk them out of it. ‘Nah, man I’m not addict, I can stop anytime I want.’ Well, stop. ‘Not right now, it’s under control.’ So, I decided anytime one of my friends got on that stuff, I would just have to find a new friend. Old friends for sale. Buy one, get one free. I’m not a drug counselor and you know the first thing they want to do is get you to try it so I’d rather not deal with it.”

    She responds, “Yeah, I didn’t get into the hard stuff. A lot of my friends went that way too. Some of them became schoolteachers too and need to get on a drug program.”

    Every night, we seem to fall into the same squabble about who should hang up the phone first. We compromise on counting to three and hanging up. Someone always ends up cheating and we’d spend another thirty minutes discussing sweet ways to say goodbye. We settle for making kissy sounds and saying night-night.