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Authors: Carl Weber

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BOOK: Up to No Good
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Rumor had it that Omar had gone down to Jamaica with her, but then my boy Charles told me that Omar hadn’t been released from the hospital until a few days ago. It seems I ’d given him quite the ass whipping. My lawyer said I was lucky I hadn’t been charged with attempted murder.

A couple of my friends said he wanted to see me so he could apologize, but I still couldn’t forgive him. Not in a million years. I couldn’t even think of him without seeing an image of him riding my woman and enjoying every moment. How was I ever supposed to forgive the man who helped rip my life apart while calling me a friend? A best friend.

I kept thinking, What if I hadn’t gone up to her room
that night? What if I had married her, totally in the dark about her cheating? What if she’d gotten pregnant? What if …? I had too many unanswered questions. I lifted the bottle again. Yeah, I was a brother needing all the liquid tranquilizer that I could find, even though no amount of drinking took the edge off the pain of my broken heart.

After one more swig from the bottle, I decided to do something I knew would end up coming back to haunt me. Nevertheless, it was something my heart was telling me I had to do if I was ever going to get any answers to my questions. I picked up the phone and dialed Keisha’s number. I know—stupid, right?

“Hello?” Keisha sounded shocked. I’m sure she had recognized my cell phone number on her caller ID. “Darnel? Is that you?”

I thought about hanging up. I couldn’t make myself speak, but I sure knew what I wanted to say. I wanted to tell her how much I hated her, how she was a slut and was going to burn in hell for what she’d done to me. I just didn’t have the guts.

“I … I just wanna know …” My voice was timid and hesitant, and I hated myself for sounding so weak. “I just wanna know why.”

“Why what, Darnel?” Her tone was not confrontational, but her question angered me nonetheless. I couldn’t believe she was acting like she didn’t know what I was talking about. Like this whole thing was some figment of my imagination.

Suddenly I found my strength. I exploded, my voice pure bass now. “Why the hell did you do me like that?”

As I waited for her to respond, I could hear quiet whimpers on the other end of the phone. Why she was crying was beyond me. I was the one who should be crying. I was the one who was done wrong.

“I’m sorry, Darnel,” she managed to speak through her sobs. If she were anyone else, I might have felt sorry for her.

“Naw, you ain’t. You ain’t sorry about shit.”

“Yes, I am. Please, baby, please forgive me. I made a mistake.”

“A mistake? That wasn’t a mistake. That was Omar. That was my best friend.” I tried not to cry, but I was so angry that I couldn’t hold back the tears.

“If I could do it all over again …”

It was too late for regrets as far as I was concerned. “I hate you! Do you hear me? I hate your ass.”

Her sobs became louder. When she was finally able to speak, she said, “I know. But I still love you.”

I wanted to spew more venom at her, but her words and the sincerity in her voice sent me back to the past ten years of our relationship. I was so glad I was on the phone, because I did not want her to read my true feelings in my body language. I didn’t want her to know what I was thinking:
I still love you too.
The only thing that stopped me from saying it out loud was that I hated her just as much as I loved her.

“Darnel, it was a mistake, a big mistake.”

I allowed my pain to banish the sentimental feelings I ’d had a moment ago. “Oh, I see. Omar’s dick just mistakenly fell into your pussy. That kinda crap happens all the time. What the hell am I pissed off about?” I asked sarcastically.

“I was drunk. I know it was stupid. I wasn’t trying to hurt you.”

“You weren’t? That wasn’t some dude you met in a bar. That was Omar. You fucked Omar, my boy.”

“I know, and I’m sorry. I’m not perfect like you, Darnel. Real people make mistakes. Can’t you just forgive me? I’ll do anything to make it up to you.”

“I just want to know one thing.”

“What’s that?”

“Why?” We were back to the original question. “I wanna know why you did it.”

It took her quite a while to speak up, and even then she still didn’t have an answer. “I don’t know, Darnel. I’m just stupid. Maybe I should just kill myself.”

“That’s not funny.” I had never known Keisha to play games like this, but she was obviously not the person I once thought she was. Now she had sunk low enough to fake suicidal thoughts just to gain my sympathy.

“I’m not laughing,” she insisted. “Everyone hates me. You hate me. Your family hates me. My mother and father hate me. I don’t have any reason to live.”

“Like I do? I’m the one who should be killing myself. But it has to be about you, doesn’t it, Keisha? Well, then, fuck it. Go ’head and kill yourself.” I had decided to call her bluff, but she wasn’t about to back down.

“You know what?” she responded. “Bye, Darnel. See you next lifetime.”

I stared at my cell in disbelief. The screen read CALL DISCONNECTED. She had actually hung up on me. Was she really going to go through with it? I know what I ’d said, but the last thing I wanted her to do was commit suicide. I hit the TALK button to redial her number.

“Hello.” Her voice was quiet, and she was still crying.

“We need to talk in person. I’m coming over,” I said in a tone that meant no was not an option.

She sounded drained. “I’ll see you when you get here.”

I disconnected the call, unsure of what I was feeling. Would she really try to kill herself? I didn’t think so,
but I had to make sure, because my conscience couldn’t handle something like that. Besides, if I was really being honest with myself, I wanted to see her again. I considered the idea that maybe she had lied about attempting suicide, knowing that it would get me to come to her place. Maybe she wanted to see me as much as I was now realizing I wanted to see her. I loved this woman, and as crazy as that sounds, in the back of my mind, I was wondering if there was any way to make this work.

I allowed my mind to wander, to imagine a scenario for when I showed up at her place. In my brief fantasy, our reconciliation was quick and passionate. Within minutes, I was imagining the two of us naked, limbs intertwined as we made love.

Even in this inebriated state, I knew this was foul. This was sick. How could I even want to touch her again? But I just had to—

My father interrupted my fantasy when he came into the living room wearing a burgundy silk smoking jacket and matching pajama bottoms, like some black Hugh Hefner or something. But I wasn’t mad at him. I guess if I had some woman screaming at the top of her lungs like a damn fool, I ’d be strutting too.

Without a word, he reached over to the coffee table and picked up the half-empty Grey Goose bottle and examined it. He frowned, shook his head, and then placed the bottle back on the table. The way his face hardened told me he was disgusted with me. My father drank socially, but he definitely wasn’t the kind of guy who would finish off half a bottle of vodka sitting alone in his house. Neither was I, until I caught Keisha and Omar together.

“Is the pussy that good that you’d violate an order of protection?” It took a moment for my alcohol-soaked
brain to understand what he was telling me: He’d heard my conversation with Keisha. At least he’d heard part of it. Damn, I did not want him to know I was going over there. My lack of response opened the door for him to lecture me.

“She’s not worth your freedom, Darnel,” he continued. “Don’t let this woman ruin your life. You need to stay your behind home.”

“I have to talk to her.”

“You don’t have to do anything but stay black and die,” he said in a no-nonsense tone.

“Dad, you don’t understand,” I protested. Part of me knew how stupid I was being, but no matter how wrong she’d done me, I couldn’t control the way I felt. She had taken up residence in my heart a long time ago.

“You’re right; I don’t. But don’t be stupid. Anything you need to say to her can be said over the telephone.”

He was right and I knew it, but the image of me and Keisha making love had lit a fire in my soul, and I had to be near her, had to be able to touch her. A phone call just wouldn’t do it. Of course, I couldn’t admit this to my father, so I used Keisha’s suicide ploy to try getting him off my back.

“She told me she’s going to kill herself. I can’t have that on my conscience.”

He laughed. “If I had a hundred dollars for every woman who told me she was going to kill herself, I ’d be rich.” My father sat down next to me. “She said that because she wanted you to come over. You’re giving her what she wants. She knows you still love her.”

“She’s right. I do love her. I was going to marry her, remember?”

“I do, and I know you were deeply in love.”

“Oh yeah? What would you know about love?”

“Still won’t give me a break, huh?”

“Nope. I love you, but you could have married my mother. No woman has ever loved you like she does.”

Usually this topic caused a fight between me and my father, which would end with him telling me to mind my own business. But this time, maybe because he was feeling sorry for me, he took my criticism like a man.

“I can’t argue with you on that,” he told me. “She loved me more than I deserve. And I care about your mother, son. Your mother was, and is, a beautiful woman. But it takes a strong man to love a good woman.”

“What do you mean by that?”

“You have to be a risk-taker to be in love. Love always opens you up to being hurt, and there are some hurts you never get over.” I could tell by my dad’s tone that he knew how I felt. I didn’t think he’d ever been hurt the way Keisha had done to me—he was more likely to be the one cheating, not the one cheated on. But even if he’d never felt it himself, he definitely had sympathy for me. This wasn’t his usual cool and calm spiel, when he was giving advice he’d never take.

For a while, we sat quietly, commiserating together, I guess.

I thought about it, flipping back and forth the pros and cons of taking this step. In the end, I knew that I still had to see Keisha. I just had to.

“I’m going over to Mark’s house.” I made up the lie to avoid any more lectures from Dad, but he was old school, and he’d already told the lies I was still dreaming up. I had to give him credit for staying out of it and letting me make my own decisions.

“Yeah, all right. Whatever. You can lie to me all you want, but you can’t lie to yourself.” My father waved his hand in dismissal, shook his head, and walked toward the kitchen. He obviously knew I was headed to Keisha’s, but at least he didn’t try to stop me.

Jamie
9

I slammed down the telephone, pissed off at Daddy for two reasons. Number one, he had one of his playthings over at the house, and number two, he hadn’t stopped Darnel from running over to Keisha’s house. He was so weak-minded, that brother of mine. Okay, maybe not exactly weak, but how about kindhearted? He was just too damn kindhearted and trusting.

Darnel wasn’t like me or Daddy; we were naturally suspicious, and it took a while for us to trust anyone outside of our family circle. You can ask my boo, Louis, about that. It took us almost five months of being together before I felt like I could trust him with my heart. But Darnel, he always took everyone at face value, trusting their word to be their bond. He just couldn’t believe shit stank. And everyone from his friends to his fiancée took his kindness for weakness.

“So, is everything okay?” Louis asked. He was sitting up in the bed, watching TV, probably waiting for me to finish my eleven o’clock call to Daddy. We hadn’t done anything in a couple of days, so I’m sure he was waiting up to get some. Shoot, I could use a little stress reduction myself, but only after I got this off my chest.
“Daddy said Darnel’s gone over to Keisha’s.”

Louis rubbed his forehead. “What the hell’s he thinking about?”

“I don’t know. I think we’re going to have to find him a woman.”

“Oh no, you don’t. We’re not going to find him anything. That’s you. I’m not in the matchmaking business,” he said seriously.

“Oh, come on, baby.” I snuggled up next to him. “Don’t you want to see my brother happy?”

“Of course I do. That’s why I’m staying the hell out of his personal life.” Before I could find the right thing to say, he changed the subject. “So what’s your pops up to?”

“Would you believe he’s got some woman over at the house?”

Louis chuckled. “I’m not surprised. Your pops always got someone over at the house.”

I rolled my eyes at him something fierce. “That’s not funny, Louis.”

“I’m not laughing, Jamie. But you need to cut your pops some slack. You’re grown. The man’s gotta have a life too.”

“Yeah, well, he don’t need to waste his time on those gold diggers and whores. He’s too old for that. I got a good mind to go over there.”

“What, you expect him to play bingo with the senior citizens? The man just turned forty-eight years old, not ninety-eight. Damn, why can’t you give him a break?”

“He ain’t gotta play bingo. He just needs to slow down. You don’t understand, Louis. These women ain’t got nothing good for my daddy.”

This time, Louis rolled his eyes. “No woman has anything good for your father as far as you’re concerned.”

“You got that right.”

He shook his head. “You know, baby, your obsession with your father’s life is not healthy.”

I pulled away from him and sat up in the bed. “Obsession? What the hell do you mean by that? Are you trying to say me and my daddy are doing something?” I pointed my finger in his face, daring him to accuse me of something sick like that. I would knock his ass out if he did.

“No!” he said, sounding just as offended as I was. “Damn, baby. You’re touchy tonight. I’m just saying you’re a daddy’s girl, that’s all.”

I didn’t answer, because he was right. I was a daddy’s girl. But don’t pass judgment until you hear my story.

You see, I didn’t even find out that James Black was my daddy until I was ten. Apparently, my mother had been tipping around with him while she was married to Chester, the man who had raised me as his daughter. Chester was an ex-military man, and he raised me and my three older brothers—or rather the boys who turned out to be my half brothers—with plenty of rules and regulations. I always respected him, but I can’t say I was ever one of those little girls who worshipped her father.

BOOK: Up to No Good
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