“What did you just say to me?” Mekayla blurted out between sobs.
The cabby looked at her via the rear view mirror and softly smiled, “I asked you if you wanted a napkin to wipe your face.” He handed her a napkin over the seat.
“I usually keep tissues in the cab, you know for situations like this.”
Mekayla took the napkin and sighed. She didn’t notice the cabby when he first drove her to Kevin’s because she had more pressing issues on her mind. But when she looked at him now she noticed the brother had really kind eyes framed by stylish glasses. He wore a light brown leather coat with matching skullcap. His slight smiled accented by a meticulously groomed goatee.
“You have a lot of situations like this?” She asked wiping away at her eyes.
The cabby smiled a little wider showing his gleaming teeth.
“Sweetie, I have worked the late shift on this cab for about three years now. I have seen it all.” He seemed to know where he was going without taking his eyes off of Mekayla.
“That your man?”
Mekayla nodded, “So I thought.”
He took his focus off of her to concentrate on the road. “So you think you caught him? See that’s why I tell my woman to never come over unannounced. What looks like ain’t always.”
Mekayla huffed, “Well if you are gonna cheat on your woman, I guess that’s the best advice to give her.”
The cabby laughed, “No, no. You have me all wrong. I would never cheat on my lady. She’s a good woman, has a head on her shoulders and she loves me to pieces. I’m sayin sometimes a man gets himself in situations that look worse than they really are.”
“Yeah well, that wasn’t the situation in my case.” Mekayla shrugged now wishing she never entertained this conversation.
“Oh yes it was.” The cabby said unveiling his full, beautiful smile. “Did you notice how that man ran after you? He wasn’t messing with that girl. Whatever you saw, you saw, but he wasn’t cheating.”
“He was too busy to come see me this weekend and yet he had a girl in his apartment, drinking and dancing with her!!” Mekayla’s voice became louder, “He never dances with me.”
“Did he try to explain anything to you?”
“I didn’t give him a chance to.”
The cabby chuckled again, “Yeah I kinda figured as much by how fast you darted down those steps. I barely had enough time to put your fare in my wallet. You shoulda stayed and talked to him. I’m sure he had an explanation.”
“Figures a man would say that.” Mekayla snapped.
“No,” he said matter of fact, “Not just a man, but a wise man that has seen this situation before, many times.”
“You really don’t know anything about my situation.” Mekayla sighed and glared at the pleasant looking cabby through the rear view mirror.
“I know more than you think. You guys have been in a long distance relationship,
I know because I picked you up from the train station. It’s serious, because you took out your key to his place before you even paid me my money. And you aren’t exactly guilt free yourself.” He said now locking eyes with Mekayla through the mirror.
Mekayla frowned at him. “What makes you think I’m guilty of something?”
He smiled widely, “Why else would you come unannounced in the wee hours of the morning, with hardly any luggage?”
Mekayla’s mouth dropped open. He had her. Read her like a three-day-old newspaper, quickly and without concern. She sighed but did not take her focus off of his smirking face. “I’m sorry what was your name?”
“I never gave it to you, “he said smiling, “but it’s Ebon.”
“Well Ebon,” she huffed sarcastically, “I’m not paying you for your advice. I’m paying you to drive the cab. So no disrespect, but drive the cab.”
“Okay lady,” Ebon said, “but you ain’t payin for this cab ride.”
“And why is that?” Mekayla snapped.
“Because I am doing you a favor. I could tell by the way that man damn near fell down those steps that he loves you. And no matter what it is you think you saw, it can be worked out. Shit she could’ve been teachin him how to dance so he can dance with you for all you know.”
Mekayla was now feeling he face become flush with anger, “And what exactly does that have to do with me paying for this cab ride?”
Ebon smiled “Everything. That man will be at that train station within ten minutes after I drop you off. You all will argue make up and you will be in another cab on his way back to his place for some great make up sex and breakfast. I’m just savin you the extra fare.”
Mekayla now rolled her eyes, “Whateva.” She had to smile at him. “What if you are wrong?”
Ebon cleared his throat, “I’m not. But to humor you, I never take money from women in distress. That includes pregnant women, drunk women, women coming back from the police station, and women I pick up in the wee hours of the morning that think they catch their men cheating on them. So if I am wrong, at least I’m charitable.”
Mekayla’s expression softened as she looked out the window, “Let’s hope you are right Ebon,” she said softly, “Let’s hope you are completely right.”
“I don’t believe this shit!!” Kevin yelled as he hobbled back up the steps with Prudence’s assistance.
“It will be okay, Kevin, just call her on her cell and explain it to her,” Prudence said consolingly. “Hell I’ll even talk to her if you want.” As they made their way into the apartment Kevin began hopping around knocking over things overturning stuff as he went. Prudence sat on the arm of the couch.
“She doesn’t have a cell.” Kevin snapped.
“She doesn’t have a cell?” Prudence said in shock.
“Nah, she hates them.” Kevin said as he continued his hopping.
“What kinda of women livin in the city doesn’t have a cell phone?!” she asked following him with her eyes. Kevin hopped into the bedroom, came back out, looked in closets, on his desk, and then banged his injured foot on the coffee table as a beer bottle came crashing to the ground.
“Dammit!!!” he yelled.
Prudence chuckled to herself and then assisted him over to the couch to sit down.
“Are you okay?” she asked.
“Nah,” he said wincing in pain. “I think I may have sprained it. Go look in my jacket pocket,” he asked her.
“You are going after her?!” Prudence asked again in shock.
Kevin’s eyes got wide, “Uh hell yeah.”
“Like hell you are.” Prudence snapped.
“Why not?!” he yelled.
“You can’t drive on that foot.”
“You know how to drive a stick?” Kevin asked her hopefully.
“Unt uh.” she said shaking her head.
“Fuck!” He yelled more in anger at himself than Prudence.
Prudence put her hand on his shoulder, “Listen,” she said. “It ain’t gonna do you no good anyway, trust me, I know, I’m a woman, an educated woman like Mekayla.”
Kevin just smirked.
“And no matter what you tell that woman right now, as educated as she may be, she’s not gonna believe you. So I suggest you sit here”, she said taking a pillow off of the couch and placing it on the coffee table.
“Elevate your foot,” she helped a wincing Kevin lift his foot on to the pillow, “and let her cool down. Call her first thing when the sun comes up. Shit you weren’t doin nothin wrong. If anything you should be mad her coming over unannounced. And you can explain that to her later.” Prudence got up, grabbed her purse, and pulled out her cell phone.
“What are you doin?” Kevin asked more out of confusion than concern.
“Callin me a cab. This way if her crazy ass comes back I won’t be here.” She walked over to Kevin and patted his head as if he were a child. “Trust me, y’all will be planning y’all wedding by Christmas.”
“Let’s hope you’re right Pru.” Kevin said under his breath “Let’s hope you’re right.”
Brett made sure to walk by Mekayla’s fire escape in the alley at least once a day.
Even though there was no glowing light from her back door, he knew she was home.
Early Sunday morning, Brett watched Erik and Mekayla enter her building and to his knowledge no one had left her loft since. He wanted to call her but since the altercation with Erik, he didn’t want to chance him intercepting the call. Brett wasn’t in the mood for Erik’s bullshit, but he was worried about Mekayla and really wanted to see her.
He wasn’t sure what happened, but he hoped he wasn’t the cause of it. He figured he’d give her another day or two. In the meantime he would stick to his daily vigil by her fire escape, looking for her bedroom light through her back door.
Brett also realized that he hasn’t seen Sadiah in over a week either. However to be honest, he hadn’t given it too much thought. She was probably out on one of her binges, or maybe she checked into rehab again, maybe she met someone else, he really didn’t care. Brett was glad she was gone. But he had no idea how far gone she was.
Pete and Daddy rotated shifts cleaning up the healing scars over Sadiah’s eyes, which the doctors said may never open again. .
Erik watched a Law and Order marathon as he twisted Mekayla’s hair while she slept. He shifted an oversized pillow to give his back more support. She called him when her train stopped to refuel, and he couldn’t believe his ears. Kevin was cheating on Mekayla and she caught him.
Not the perfect wonderful Kevin that Erik had heard so much about.
Not the man Mekayla told him on several occasions he needed to be more like.
He hated to tell the girl he told her so but everyone knows that long distance relationships are a relative nightmare. Trust is always in question no matter how much reassurance is given.
Assumptions are made when communication is lacking.
Feelings cannot be understood adequately when not expressed face to face.
Emotions are put aside so that weekends are not spoiled.
Erik knew all of this but when he heard her crying over the phone, he decided to keep it all to himself.
The light on Mekayla’s answering machine was blinking since they had come in the door. She told Erik to turn off the ringer to the phone and turn down the volume to the answering machine.
Erik looked at her skeptically but respected her wishes. At the end of the second night, when Mekayla finally got around to taking a hot bath Erik took the opportunity to listen to some of the messages. There were six. Five from Kevin, and one from Prudence. Erik decided not to erase them in case Mekayla was up to listening to them later.
He had been there for about a week and the most that Mekayla asked for was something to drink and what time it was. He was starting to get cabin fever and wished she would get up and talk to him so he could yell at her for taking this so hard. She had to pull herself together. Erik was sure that Kevin wasn’t sitting around moping over her, so why should she stop living because of him. There had to be more to the story but he would wait for Mekayla to tell him.
During a commercial Mekayla lifted her head and squinted at the TV.
“Hey you, ” Erik said, “How you feel?”
“Hungry.” Mekayla said through a yawn.
“It’s about time,” Erik said playing in her hair.
Mekayla rolled over so her head was laying face up in his lap. She looked at him with a confused look on her face,
“And I had this dream, that I was Briscoe from Law and Order.”
Erik busted out in laughter.
Mekayla frowned her face, “What?”
“It’s a marathon,” he said smiling.
“Oh,” she said unfazed and closed her eyes.
Erik kissed her forehead, “What do you want to eat?”
“Mmmm, “she said with her eyes still closed, “I guess I should go light so my stomach don’t go into shock.”
I can’t believe that you are carrying on the way that you are.” Erik said.
Mekayla just gave him a confused look.
“Don’t look at me like that,” he snipped.
“Are you mad at me?” Mekayla said sounding hurt.
“Not mad just sick of seeing you mope around here feeling sorry for yourself.”
Mekayla sat up in anger, “I caught my man cheating on me. I have a right to be angry!”
“No, in all actuality, you saw your man dancing with another woman. That is not cheating,” Erik responded.
“Infidelity is the committing of any act that would anger you if you knew your partner did it.” Mekayla spat back.
“I’m really sick of hearing you say that.”
“It’s true,” she said lying back down on the pillows.
“Well in that case,” Erik asked, “Weren’t you an infidel by giving Brett your number?”
“No,” Mekayla paused, “I was an infidel when I let him kiss me.” She got up and went over to the kitchen to get herself a glass of water. Erik speechlessly watched her until she came back over to the pillows to lie down. They continued to stare at each other until Mekayla blurted out,
“What the fuck you mean what?” Erik snapped frowning.
“So I was wrong for that?” Mekayla asked smirking.
Erik sighed and hung his head, “You have anything to drink in here?”
Mekayla shook her head no.
“When did this happen?” He asked.
“The night I left.”
“And why are you just now telling me this?”
Mekayla smirked, “Please, if I were to tell you this, you woulda been pissed at me.”
“I’m pissed at you now!” Erik snapped.
“Why?” Mekayla whined back.
“You can’t be serious?”
“Would you listen to yourself?” Erik said. “You have been in a functional coma for almost a week because you think Kevin was cheating on you, and reality is…”
“Reality is,” Mekayla interrupted, “I was on my way down there to tell Kevin what I had done and then…”
There was an awkward block of silence between the two of them. Erik got up and shifted his position so he could twist Mekayla’s hair again.
“You know you are wrong, don’t chu?” He eventually said to her.
Mekayla nodded ever so slightly as to not disturb Erik from his twisting.
“You know you can’t be mad at him right?”
“No, I can still be mad,” Mekayla answered, “But I mad at him for the wrong reasons.”
Erik chuckled, “Okay explain that to me.”
Mekayla let out a huge sigh, “It’s like this. I have been asking Kevin to come see me for weeks now and every week he has another excuse why he can’t. Now they are valid reasons, mind you, but nonetheless, I still don’t see him. Then, I go down there, and he is drinking and dancing with another female, that I don’t even know. It’s funny that he doesn’t have time for me, but he has time for everyone else.”
“So you cheated on him?” Erik paused twisting her hair for a moment.
“No the kissing was before I went to see him, and I know why I did that.”
“Do you really?”
Mekayla turned to look at Erik, “Yes, I do.”
“May I ask why?” He asked.
“Mekayla turned around, “What are you my therapist?”
Erik went back to twisting her hair, “Someone needs to help you.”
“I did what I did because I’m not getting enough attention.” She said hesitantly.
Erik sighed, “So why didn’t you tell Kevin this?”
“For what, to start and argument?” She asked.
“No. You are the one that always says communication is the key. So why didn’t you communicate?”
Mekayla shrugged, “I dunno. I guess I was scared.”
“Of Kevin? Erik said somewhat surprised.
“You say that like you know him.” Mekayla responded.
“No, I know you. And from what you tell me Kevin wouldn’t harm a hair on your head.”
“I’m not talkin physically.” She closed her eyes as if looking for thought.
“What if he is doing everything he can to make me happy, but I’m still not happy?”
“Since when were you not happy?” Erik asked.
Mekayla just shrugged.
“What is it then?”
“I’m hungry.” She answered dismissively
“I could run down to the Italian deli and get that slimy stuff you eat.”
Mekayla opened raised her eyebrow at him, “Ugh, what slimy stuff?”
“That soup,” Erik responded also wrinkling his nose.
“That’s Italian Wedding Soup, and it’s not slimy.” She said shutting her eyes.
“Well what’s that green stuff?” He said still frowning.
Mekayla sucked her teeth, “Spinach.”
“It looks slimy.” Erik said pushing his point.
“Not as slimy as okra.” Mekayla snapped back.
“You say that like I eat okra?”
“I’m sayin.” She paused for quite some time, “Are you gonna get me my soup?”
She whined looking at him.
“You a pain in the ass.” Erik said playfully as he lifted her head off of his lap so he could get up. “Is there anything else you want?”
“A gun.” Mekayla responded matter of fact.
“Lawd I’m afraid to ask.
Erik poked his head in on the way out the door, “Pepsi?”
“Yes please.” She said not looking up. “I love you.”
“Love you too.” Erik said on his way back out.
“Erik!!!” Mekayla shouted.
“What dammit?” He said playfully after reopening the door.
Mekayla looked over her shoulder, “How come we never hooked up?”
“Cuz I don’t like you.” He said smiling.
Mekayla laughed and Erik just winked at her and shut the door. Still smiling she got up and walked over to the answering machine and toyed with the idea of listening to the messages. She decided against it. Instead she walked over to her desk drawer and took out the joint that she put in there over a week ago. She lit it, took a hard hit and straddled the computer chair while resting her head on the back of it. She couldn’t figure out what made her more upset, than Kevin was cheating on her or that she found out because she was cheating on him. She spun herself around a few times as she contemplated what she was going to do.
As bad as she wanted to talk to Kevin, she had to sort her own feelings out first. She was confused and hurt in the same breath. She stopped spinning and went into her bedroom. She looked at the back door and took one more hard hit off of her joint before unlocking it and stepping out onto the fire escape. When she did she saw Brett looking up at her from the alley.