You walk into the coffeehouse and pick a seat beside the thin woman whose beauty is coiled into tight vines of hair. Never seen her here before, you think as you slide into the bench beside her, careful not to get caught looking in her direction.
You take off your coat, power up your laptop, check your cell phone for messages. You coyly lay your trap.
Read the rest of this “flash fiction” here: Sex Coffee
Robert don’t need no help pulling girls, now. But when the Dream Date came to Burrell for its Hometown Hunks series, I just had to jump at my chance. See, I’m the type of brother that’s always taking chances. Be it quitting school to become an entrepreneur—because I’m going to have my own business one day—or be it quitting my job at the Dyimond Burger because I found it stifling to my social life. Once I let that be known, Vernecia who stay at the Dyimond Burger and will probably drop dead behind the cash register, way she carries on, she replied, “What social life?” Hardy-har-har-har. What’s funny is the number of milkshakes that girl pours per hour. I watch her taking orders with her head cocked to the side like, You been talking to me this whole time? And mopping through the hook at closing because they short on account of me and she’s steady telling me how she just can’t see it: me, that is, doing much more than the Dyimond Burger. Vernecia was at Baylor for three semesters before her mama passed and she thinks she the only one around here that can do something.
Fact is, the girl’s a naysayer. My own daddy is a naysayer too. But I have what they call an entrepreneurial spirit. And once I become a ladies’ man and an entrepreneur, they’ll have to complain to somebody else. I was in the midst of telling Vernecia that when outside the front windows, the Dream Date rig pulled up South Main. That’d be the stretch of road between the restaurant and the high school, the same road that for two hundred years has only been there to guide you from one side of cow country to the other side of some more cow country. But picture my calling the way I seen it: the words Dream Date in Coca-Cola letters and “Got what it takes to be a Romeo?” in glittering gold underneath. Robert said, Sure thing. I could be a Romeo. I’m telling you, brother, it didn’t take me more than one second to figure out what to do.
Lesley Arimah is a Kimbilio Fellow who, at the last minute was unable to attend the summer retreat. Her story “Who Will Greet You At Home” appears in the October 26 edition of The New Yorker.
The yarn baby lasted a good month, emitting dry, cotton-soft gurgles and pooping little balls of lint, before Ogechi snagged its thigh on a nail and it unravelled as she continued walking, mistaking its little huffs for the beginnings of hunger, not the cries of an infant being undone. By the time she noticed, it was too late, the leg a tangle of fibre, and she pulled the string the rest of the way to end it, rather than have the infant grow up maimed. If she was to mother a child, to mute and subdue and fold away parts of herself, the child had to be perfect.
Yarn had been a foolish choice, she knew, the stuff for women of leisure, who could cradle wool in the comfort of their own cars and in secure houses devoid of loose nails. Not for an assistant hairdresser who took danfo to work if she had money, walked if she didn’t, and lived in an “apartment” that amounted to a room she could clear in three large steps. Women like her had to form their children out of sturdier, more practical material to withstand the dents and scrapes that came with a life like hers. Her mother had formed her from mud and twigs and wrapped her limbs tightly with leaves, like moin moin: pedestrian items that had produced a pedestrian girl. Ogechi was determined that her child would be a thing of whimsy, soft and pretty and tender and worthy of love. But first she had to go to work.
I wasn’t going to a funeral, but I might as well have been. I changed dresses at least twelve, thirteen times before deciding on a pleated black dress with tiny buttons down the front from my neck to below my knee. Tiny pearl buttons had always been challenging for me to fasten, and now my fingers trembled worse than they did when I used to hold my hands out for daddy to hit them with a ruler. I would stand there, fingers shaking as the ruler came down across the back of each hand five times. One time he whipped me because I argued with Mr. Phillips, my seventh grade teacher. The answer Mr. Phillips wrote on the board to the math problem was incorrect. Daddy said, as he always did, that a child should be “seen and not heard.” It wasn’t my place to tell him whether it was right or wrong. I learned obedience long before seventh grade. That day I just forgot my place. When the deacons came over for a visit, I politely excused myself from the room, and so did mama. We didn’t talk back to daddy. He knew what was best for our family. But today, for the first time, I planned to stand up for myself, and hopefully the change in me would have an effect on my husband and my son.
(as published in Fjords Review – Black American Special Edition 2015)
Freddie Que dressed up as Santa Claus. Handing out small gifts to kids in one of the worst neighborhoods in the city. People around him passing by looking for a cocaine fix and there was Freddie barking “Ho Ho Ho” and “Merry Christmas” and smiling. He even had on a fake beard that couldn’t hide the fact that he was Black.
I felt ill all of a sudden riding along seeing him on Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue in the heart of Washington D.C. after all these years. Usually, a lawyer has a client, you do work for them, and then they are gone, poof, forever. But there he was: Freddie Que, in all of his glory. Christmas Eve, quite chilly in the Capital of the World, Freddie outside Fat Claude’s Barbershop, and he had a grocery cart full of holiday gifts for those denied a material Christmas blessing. Tonka trucks and dolls; footballs and make-up kits; cheap hats and puzzles. He was giving the goods out like they were mints and people were thanking him like he was the real Santa Claus.