Mekayla handed Erik her plate as he was cleaning up, “I guess we are okay. I don’t have any real complaints. We never fight.”
“Because you don’t say shit that’s why.” Erik said now putting the plates in the sink.
“True, but I don’t get a chance to. By the time I’m ready to cuss his ass out, he redeems himself.” Mekayla said sipping her juice.
“He knows you too well,” Erik said returning to the stool. He reached in his pocket and pulled out a fat bag of green and began dumping it onto the table.
Thank God. I thought he was going to wash the dishes before we sparked up.
This was the only “bad thing” Erik did. But of course he didn’t think it was bad because it was natural.
Smoking with Erik was the best because she could let everything off of her chest and he wouldn’t judge her and plus then she could braid his hair quicker with him more relaxed.
Erik reached over and pulled a package of blunts from a drawer and began to cut one open. Mekayla was staring intently as if she were a dog waiting to be fed.
“Damn ma, calm down.” Erik laughed. “I know you had a rough week but you look like you’re about to mug a brotha.”
Mekayla realizing she was about to pounce leaned back off the counter a little and laughed. “My bad E. So why do you say Kevin knows me too well?”
“Cuz he does,” he said tending to the blunt as if it were a science experiment.
“I mean I’m not saying that the brotha is playin you, I don’t know the guy…” Erik stopped dumping in mid sentence,
“Yeah why is it I haven’t met him yet?”
Mekayla sighed, “Shit I dunno E, I barely see him.”
“Well that’s going to have to change and soon. I usually can get a feeling about a brotha as soon as I shake his hand.”
“Yeah well I shoulda let you shake all of my boyfriend’s hands. It woulda save me some heartache” she smirked.
“I really didn’t have that much time.” Erik scoffed.
“Fuck you!” Mekayla laughed.
“Never and you know this, “Erik smiled back and began operating on the blunt again.
“Like I was saying, I’m not saying the brotha had bad intentions by you at all, but if y’all never fight and he always says and does the right thing he may be playing the fuck out of you.”
“For what though? That doesn’t make much sense. Why go through all that?”
“Because he can.” Erik began licking the filled Philly and changed the subject. “We goin to slam tonight?”
“Shit,” Mekayla frowned slightly, “I don’t have any new poems memorized.”
“Well Meek, you always freestyle better after some la, ” he said holding it up to
“So we goin, I need the money.”
Mekayla laughed, “You so arrogant, you said I freestyle better after the la.”
Erik lit the blunt, took a hard hit and blew the smoke over Mekayla’s head, “I said better, but not as good as me.”
“The Basement” was exactly what its name described. It was the basement of a bar that was turned into a dark gathering spot for poets from all over the local and not so local area for a weekly poetry slam. Since the bar made an adequate amount of money on liquor sales, the host provided the slam winners a cash prize that was split from the door cover. Some weeks, the prize money could buy groceries.
Other times the money just bought more drinks.
Erik and Mekayla, when their schedules and pockets allowed, were regulars at the venue, and most of the time they would leave with pocket money.
Mekayla was so lifted she had her face pressed against the cold green vinyl backing of the booth the pair would always share. They liked it because was off to the side of the stage so they were hidden from the general audience but still had an excellent view. The crowd because was focused on the poet on the stage at the moment. Dottie had to be close to fifty with a very bad orange-crush dye job on puffy poodle hair. Dottie’s poem went on and on about a relationship that she probably fabricated in her own imagination.
Erik sat across form Mekayla fiddling with a straw wrapper while mumbling to himself with his eyes closed. Mekayla slowly lifted her face off of the vinyl and it made that pseudo-ripping noise, which caught Erik’s attention, and his eyes sprung open.
Mekayla head moved towards the stage so slowly that Erik’s gaze had no choice but to follow hers. Then she moved her head back just as slow and lowered it onto the table.
From that position she hissed, “When is this fucking poem going to end?!”
He chuckled so loud that some of the audience actually turned to find the source of the interruption. But he hid himself successfully behind one of the beams in the bar.
Then he whispered, “Meek you ain’t right. Don’t get me started laughin when I’m high because I won’t stop.”
Mekayla looked up mad as hell and hissed through clenched teeth “I ain’t jokin.
She gets on my fucking nerves! Why do they let her compete? Why week after week do we have to hear that same poem?”
Erik trying not to succumb to his laughter said, “Oh c’mon she’s harmless, and she makes you look even better than you are.”
“I don’t need her help.” She said as she then propped herself across the booth so
her feet stuck out. Dottie finished up her poem and the crowd gave her more than adequate applause.
Then the host came to the stage.
Ervin was a tall wiry man in his mid-thirties with long raven hair and a goatee. He grabbed the mic as if he were well acquainted with it.
“Let’s give Dottie another hand!” Ervin spoke with a calm enthusiasm that Mekayla always admired. The crowd didn’t applaud as loudly as the first time.
Ervin responded with, “or not.”
There were slight giggles from the crowd. “Ok judges, your scores please.”
As Ervin rattled off some average sounding numbers, Erik kicked Mekayla from under the booth. “You’re next.”
“I know that shit.”
Erik frowned, “Ugh I don’t like the mean Meek. You’re gonna have to smoke some more outside.”
At that comment Mekayla smiled slightly “After that poem I’ma need to smoke the rest of it outside.”
Erik chuckled as Ervin totaled up the scores for Dottie and grabbed the mic to introduce Mekayla.
“And now our next competitor, makes every microphone a phallic symbol, the magical Mekayla.” Ervin then leaned to the side and waved his arm as if he was a magician acknowledging his assistant.
“I hate when he does that shit,” Mekayla muttered through a smile.
Erik laughed and sat on the edge of the seat of the booth so he could get a closer look at Mekayla as she made her way to the stage. Although he said he hated the mean Meek, he loved to see her perform that way. Most nights she blew all of the competition away in the first phrase. Mekayla reached the stage and gave Ervin a big hug and then she pretended to jerk the mic, which made everyone laugh.
“Don’t let this affect my score judges.” She said in a phone sex operator voice,
which caused the crowd to laugh like hell again. “I’m really not in that kind of mood anyway.”
“Since when!” shouted Erik to heckle her
“Since now,” Mekayla spat back smiling. Someone from the crowd let out a “wooooooo” of approval and she giggled, closed her eyes, took a deep breath and began her piece:
ask me why i don’t trust a man’s smile
kind words or subtle flirting
coercing me to let my guard down
it’s not that i don’t believe in forevers
decorated with happily ever afters
sprinkled with commitments
like every little girl groomed for rescue
i too waited in towers and straddled the balcony
between common sense and reality
my prince looked up amazed
said he had traveled a ways
and never seen a beauty like mine
smile like mine
spirit like mine
lips like mine
he begged for just one kiss
to tuck under his robe
he beckoned me to think with
my heartbeats and butterflies tween my thighs
and leap…so i did
into his arms
into his charms
with no fear in my heart no sense of alarm
until with my very first kiss
he bit my lips
ripped my blouse,
my skirt, then my innocence
until the pain became a numb throb
when his pretty, pretty princess fell limp
he threatened to slice a royal smile
into my throat unless i kissed him
like i loved him
needless to say i am still alive
i was reminded of shaniya davis
who had no fear in her eyes
as she was sold and carried over her threshold
and for her i cried
for me i cried
i never meant to fight you with my tongue
beat you with my shield
you never gave me
any reason to feel defensive
except you were amazed by me
never seen a smile like mine
spirit like mine
wondered what it would be like to kiss
lips like mine
it’s not that i don’t love to see a man’s smile
hear his kind words or succumb to his flirting
my inner princess is just afraid to fall limp and let her guard down
she is still throbbing
She gave a slight nod and darted off stage to thunderous applause. She headed right to Erik, who hugged her and handed her the half blunt in her cupped fist. She darted past the still clapping crowd, up the steps, and down the alley. Mekayla never stuck around to hear her scores because it made her nervous. She leaned against the wall, lit the blunt and hit on it hard. Upon exhaling, she heard Ervin’s muffled voice along with the crowds applause, and she smiled to herself with her eyes closed. She didn’t hear the footsteps coming towards her, but when she looked up a man was standing in front of her and startled her.
“Shit!” she exclaimed.
to be continued…
Photo Credit: © Hassan Davis