Thursday, February 23, 2006

pushing off weight, pt. 2

part one

when his letter came a week later, i almost didn't even recognize his handwriting. that's when i realized this was the first letter he'd ever written to me.

dear nikki,

i know you're still upset about what happened and i'm sorry for that. i know there is nothing i can do to make it better. all i can do is tell you how much i love you.

when you told me you couldn't love me because you didn't know me, that really hurt me. you know you know me. i'm still the same brotha you fell in love with two years ago. i'm the same brotha who rubbed your feet at night after you'd come home from a hard day at work. i'm the same brotha who reached for you at night so that we could make love until the wee hours.

before you past judgement, just hear me out. yes, i knew skeeter had the weed on him. no, i didn't think we'd get caught because i was doing the speed limit. when we were stopped by the sheriff, i was calm. i thought they'd only give me my ticket and send me on my way, but skeeter was acting strange and the sheriff ended up searching my car, which is when he found the weed in the glove compartment box. we were held overnight until kurt posted bond the next morning. i didn't tell you this because i knew you'd be upset with me.

nikki, please understand that i did this for us. you know my job doesn't pay much and i wanted to be able to take you out more often. i want you to have the finer things in life. i don't want you to have to worry about bills getting paid or whether or not we'll have food on the table. i'm the man of the house and i should be able to give you those things. i know i made a bad decision, but just try to understand where i'm coming from.

i'm sitting here in my cell thinking about how much i hate being here. when they say freedom is a precious thing, they weren't lying. i can't do nothing here on my own. it seems like i can't even shit without asking permission first. my cellmate is a guy named james. he's in here because he was beating up on his woman. he seem aiight but i can tell he's got a problem with his anger. i just hope a brotha don't act up, cuz then i might have to do more time after i kick his ass.

anyway, let me know you aiight. let me know we aiight. i need your support while i'm here. come down to visit me if you can. visiting hours are saturdays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. i wanna hear you're coming to see me.

i need you nikki. i love you.

hold it down.


i read the letter with mixed emotions, still unsure of who the person was who wrote the letter. i mean, i knew it was leron, but the leron i knew wasn't the kind of brotha who'd get himself into trouble like this.

or was he?

i remembered when we first met. i had walked into burger king to get something to eat. he was one of the guys working in the back. after i placed my order, i was standing to the side waiting on them to get it together. when he came from the back bringing my food with him, i paid him little attention. come on, he was a grown ass man working at burger king! i was a girl recently returned home from college, my nose tilted upward just a bit cuz college made me better than some cat who could do no better than a job at a fast food joint.

when he placed my food on the tray, he leaned across the counter to speak.

"you're beautiful, you know that?" he whispered softly into my ear.

i reached for my tray, my eyes intent on the fries as i turned to head for the condiment section. yeah, i pretended i hadn't even heard him. i'm a flirtatious type, but i wasn't about to flirt with this cat.

after i got my ketchup, filled my cup with pepsi, and headed to a corner table, i sat down facing the windows showing me the passing cars outside on memorial drive. i started digging into my food. burger king hamburgers are the SHIT. GRILLED beef, not that fried shit they got at mcdonalds. i swear, if micky d's didn't have the better fries, i'd never even go there.

my eyes were closed as i took a bite into the burger, savoring the grilled greatness of his royal highness with slow chewing, when i was interupted.

"so you chose to ignore me, huh?"

i opened my eyes and looked up. he was staring down at me with a half smile on his face. my brows furrowed as i absorbed his features. if his skin was a night sky, it'd be an infinite darkness, the surface unbroken by the blemish of enither moon nor star. it was just beautiful and brown and smooth. my eyes trace that skin across his face, noting the closely trimmed beard and gleaming white teeth. damnit, i'm a sucker for a nice smile. he had a nice one. actually, it was better than nice. it made his dark brown eyes crinkle mischieviously, like he was hiding some kind of juicy secret he was waiting to share with me if i was a good girl. what really threw me off were the longest, thickest eyelashes i'd ever seen on a man in my entire life. they framed his eyes like the lush leaves of a forest of trees shading the edges of a lake reflecting the shine of a noon high sun. i mentally added that feature to my list of 'must haves' for a potential boyfriend.

i swallowed before speaking.

"you spoke to me?"

his smile grew as he shook his head slowly, his eyes never leaving mine.

"don't play like you didn't hear me," he responded, "i might have been whispering, but my mouth was close enough to your ear for you to hear me loud and clear."

oh shit. this cat had just called me out. no sista wants to hear she deliberately ignored a brotha, especially from the brotha who was ignored. it's a confirmation of bad manners and we like to convince ourselves we're the epitome of proper behavior when it comes to dealing with men. this way we don't feel bad when we treat 'em like shit.

i lifted an eyebrow and laughed silently.

"aiight," i finally admitted, "you got me there. i generally don't talk to strangers."

"especially strangers who work in burger king, right?"

what the fuck? now he's calling out my snooty behavior? hell to da NAW. on the one hand, brotha was very observant. on the other hand, a sista don't want to acknowledge the fact she's a snooty bitch. i flinched at the dig, even as i admired his candor. i ran my eyes over his attire. the navy blue and orange and yellow polyester uniform he was wearing wasn't doing this cat a bit of good. it appeared his body was average, which wasn't bad. it was obvious he had some meat to his legs, which is definitely one of nikki's 'must haves'. he didn't have a washboard stomach, that's for sure. his belly was why the buttons on his shirt were straining a bit. he held the weight well, though. it all looked solid. there were parts of him that went against my type, but the sum of the whole was very attractive. and he was confident. a confident brotha is another one of nikki's weaknesses.

"hmmm..." i thought before answering him, "i generally don't talk to cats serving me food, no."

he took what i said in stride. in fact, he sat down across from me as if it was the most natural move in the world. i thought about checking him for his presumptous behavior but frankly, i was intrigued. he got comfortable in the seat, stretching out his arm so that it fell gracefully over the seat next to him.

"oh, so you're one of those sistas."

i was immediately offended, until i realized he was right. i was one of those sistas. one of those sistas who wasn't gonna give a brotha the time of day because i'd already calculated his weekly take home pay and it wasn't in line with what i wanted my man to be taking home. i felt instantly contrite.

"you got me again." i replied, bringing my burger to my face to cover my embarrassment.

he stared at me intently, his eyes roving over my closely cut natural hair to my fingers framing the burger to my body sheathed in a blue jean mini dress. i felt like he was reading all of me, finding the words from all of the chapters in my life tatooed onto my skin, graffitied across my clothes, pressed into my scalp, engraved into my lips, floating in my eyes. he just kept staring at me so closely i stopped moving, uncomfortable with his level of concentration on me. the silence seemed like it pulled on forever.

"you don't have to be, you know." he finally said softly.

his voice made me jump with a start. the preceding silence had become so thick i was sure it had greedily eaten all sound. it took me a moment to register what he'd said. i looked at him, confusion on my face.

"uh, i don't have to be what?" i asked.

"one of those sistas."

i put the burger down and looked into his eyes. he held my stare, never wavering, never moving nervously at the level of contact, just held it like he was reiterating his ability to hold on to anything with an inner strength i was beginning to realize he had. he was letting me know he was worthy of me, not because he was a burger king worker, but because he was a prideful black man. my mind began separating one from the other as i begin seeing him for what he really was...a brotha who was down for doing what was necessary to take care of his folk, even if it meant having to work in a fast food joint and dealing with snooty folk like me who couldn't see the strong black man behind the polyester uniform, couldn't recognized the fact he deserved my respect.

he must have seen something in me change. i know i felt it. i had grown just a little. he grinned slowly, then leaned across the table and slid a piece of paper into my hand.

"here's my number," he said, a smile in his voice even as his face held all seriousness, "i'm one of those brothas. i treat my woman like the queen she is."

then he stood up with his eyes still upon me, nodded slowly, and walked back to the front of the restaurant where he stepped behind the counter and headed to his station.

i moved my hand and looked at the piece of paper he'd given me.


you know you want to, so just do it. you won't regret it.

i started contemplating what i should do...