I slammed my door and locked it, throwing my bag on the couch as I headed towards my bedroom. Not only did I not receive any type of call from Cairo, he didn’t answer any of mine.
My first instinct was to call my sister so that I could rant but then I remembered her words. Yeah, she and my father have been calling repeatedly but oh well. I don’t feel the need to try to patch things up when they’re just going to jump and gang up on me again. They’ll be alright.
I undressed; still tired from whatever crap I put myself through last night. Alcohol has never been good to me, but it’s always been a constant whenever I needed to or had to drown my sorrows.
I used to do simple shit like write poetry or ‘angry’ letters to get things off of my chest, but that little advice from my mother was a waste. Reading things back did nothing but make me angrier than before I wrote them. After about a year of that, I started following my older brother around. I went wherever he went, did whatever he did. When he started drinking, I did too. He started smoking, I did too. And Tommy followed me soon after.
The difference between all three of us though, I use alcohol and weed as a problem solver. The only time it gets me into trouble or an even worse situation is when I’m doing it with Cairo. Get me drunk or high and I’m willing to do anything and everything. Especially if it means he won’t leave me. Call me stupid, but that’s how it’s always been.
My phone lit up and I sighed looking at it.
Just checking to see if you made it safely. Enjoy the rest of your day.
I smiled to myself before turning to see Cairo just as he walked in. “And where the fuck have you been? Wanna talk about a nigga staying out all night, but you didn’t even come home.”
“Oh, so you did notice?” I rolled my eyes and yawned as I put a t-shirt and some jeans on, walking into my closet to look for my chucks.
“Where you been?”
“Yes Cairo, all night. I got drunk, someone stopped me from driving so I wouldn’t hurt myself, and I slept it off.”
“Slept it off where?”
I grabbed my shoes, purposefully picking up my wedge sneakers instead of my chucks. I walked back into my bedroom and stared Cairo in his eyes. Red and low. “What are you questioning me for? You don’t trust me?”
“If you want me to be honest, no, I don’t.”
“Oh, this coming from the motherfucker who loves to lie and sneak around!?”
“Aye, I don’t deny my shit. Now who were you with?”
“None of your fucking business.”
I sat down and put my shoes on before grabbing my keys and phone. “Where are you going?”
“To mind my business. You should mind yours.”
I drove down the L.V. Murrow Memorial Bridge, heading towards Bellevue. Wasn’t heading to do anything specific, I just wanted to get away. Blasting Yo-Yo’s first album, I rapped along as I cruised, enjoying the pretty scenery. There have been plenty of times when I considered going back to my home state, Texas, but it’s so damn beautiful in Washington when you really pay attention. Mountains, forests, lakes, and more. If I wasn’t afraid of getting lost, I’d do all type of nature stuff.
Making it into the city, I decided to get a little shopping in. It’d been a minute since I splurged on myself and since Cairo wants to be an ass, I’ll get a little retail therapy on his dime. I grabbed his card from the glove compartment and my purse, setting my alarm as I put on my shades and walked into my favorite store. Louis Vuitton.
“Good afternoon Ma’am, may I be of assistance?”
I looked the sales representative and smiled, glad that he wasn’t one of those people that prejudged as soon as you walked into their store. “Hi, and thanks but I’d like to just look around.”
“Okay, if you need help with anything please let me know. I’ll be at the register.”
He turned around and headed back to his post. Since this specific store didn’t have much to offer aside from luggage and accessories, I decided to check out their glasses. I tried on a pair of the Amber Z06020Ws first, not really liking the way they looked on me so I moved on to a pair of rimless Lily Strass. I chose three separate pairs and moved on to bags, a bit more excited since they had their new collections out.
Just as I was getting into my zone, my phone rang. “What Cairo?”
“So you just walk out on a nigga. Look, I’m not going for this disrespectful shit from you Loni, I’m not.”
“Is that today only, because…”
“Just bring your ass home so that we can talk about this.” I pulled the phone away from my ear and looked at it, trying to figure out if he was talking to me.
“Um, you must be talking to your baby mama or one of our side hoes because I know you’re not speaking to Loni Banner like that. I just know you’re not.”
“Keep your ass out in the streets and see what happens.”
I hung up in his face, seriously trying to figure out what the fuck it is about that nigga that keep me there. My phone rang again and I groaned lowly before answering.
“Damn, I thought we’d at least moved up a little bit in our new friendship.”
“Friendship? What the hell are you talking about King? What is it with you anyway? I told you…”
“Yeah, yeah, you have a man. You can relax. I’m not calling to hit on you or anything like that.”
“Then what do you want? You want me to pay you back for helping me last night? Name it.”
“I didn’t do it to get anything in return.” I shook my head. I forgot, he claims to be one of those ‘nice just because’ type of dudes.
“Just tell me why you’re calling.”
“So damn mean. I’m gonna change that.”
“I doubt it.” I bent down and looked at a few more bags before grabbing the sunglasses I wanted and headed towards the register. “You were calling for?”
“Oh, right, mean ass; I was calling to see if you’d like to join me in a few hours.”
“To do what?”
“See a movie.”
“A movie. I take you for the type that likes gangsta movies and we’re playing Scarface tonight.”
“Way off. I like old movies.”
“Before my parents were born.”
“Damn. Guess I won’t get to see that pretty face of yours tonight.” I rolled my eyes and set my things down, saying no to the bracelet the man showed to me.
“If I say yes, will you leave me alone? And not talk to me any time you see me after this?”
“Uhh, no. I can’t lie, no, I won’t leave you alone.”
“Fine, but I’m really not in the mood to sit through a movie.”
“We can do whatever you want.”
I thanked the man after paying and walked out, clearing my throat. “Whatever?”
“So, if I wanted to sleep with you…”
“A nigga like me wouldn’t object if it was what you really wanted. But you’d probably set my ass up and leave me butt naked and tied up for my sister to find me the next morning.”
“Guess I gotta scratch that off my list. Where do you want to meet up? What time?”
“Hmm, I’ll find somewhere nice and text you.”
“Aiight. I better enjoy myself too because I will walk the hell out mid-conversation.”
“Damn. Let me get my shit together then. Bye Loni.”
I hung up and shook my head, wondering what the hell I’m about to get myself into.
On the way back to Seattle, I did a little more shopping. Picked up two new dresses and a pair of shoes before I finally got fed up with my siblings and father calling me back to back. Evidently, getting sent to voicemail doesn’t mean a damn thing anymore.
I parked in Tommy’s driveway and turned my phone all the way off as it rang once again. I sat in my car for about ten minutes before I finally got out and knocked on her door. As always Red opened the door and greeted me with a smile. Since he’s never actually ever done me wrong or annoyed me, I apologized about what I said to him the night before. “It’s all good Loni. I know how you hate for everyone to gang up on you.”
“At least you seem to understand.”
“Who was at the door Babe?”
Tommy and my father both came running in, and she threw her arms around me. “We were so fucking worried about you!”
“For what? You told me not to bother you, so I didn’t.”
“Loni, we fight but we don’t actually brush one another off. Nicola called and said you left her bar drunk, driving yourself and I got scared.”
I rolled my eyes and pushed her off of me before walking into the living room. I sat on the arm of their recliner and shrugged my shoulders. “I’m sorry, okay Loni. But I need you to understand that I’m only hard on you because I know that you deserve so much better than what you’re settling for.”
“Still you keep forgetting the fact that I am fully capable of making my own decisions and dealing with whatever consequences come my way. If Cairo is who I want to be with, you have to accept that.”
“Oh, I won’t ever accept it.”
“Then keep how you feel to yourself. All you and father do is come down on me, berate me, throwing every single failure in my face while throwing all the good shit you’ve got going on in my face. I don’t care nor do I want to hear about you being successful and happy. Congrats, but I don’t wanna hear it.”
“Sounds like you’re jealous to me.”
I looked at my father and threw my hands up. “See, that’s what the fuck I’m talking about!”
“Okay, okay, we’re not going to yell tonight Loni. I don’t think you’re a failure Sis.”
“Of course you do. Now that you’ve seen me, you don’t need to worry about me, okay. To save you the trouble of worrying about what’s going on, I am still with Cairo. My dumb ass is never going to leave him. When he cheats again, I’ll probably keep it to myself and drink my heartbreak away.”
“Loni, please don’t keep going back to him.”
I pushed Tommy’s hand away from me and got up.
Making it back to my own house a few minutes later, I grabbed all of my bags and headed inside. I ignored Cairo as he yelled and screamed behind me. After I sat my bags down I grabbed a pack of swishers and my papers, some white widow and vortex, a small bottle of vodka, and I went into the living room.
“I know you hear me talking to your ass! Where the fuck have you been?”
I cleared the coffee table and took my shirt off before sitting on the floor, crossing my legs Indian style. I put my hair into a messy bun and got my little party started.
“Shut the fuck up! Either get out of my house or sit your big ass down and wait until I roll up. Either way, stop talking to me. I’m not in the mood so trust and believe that it will be nothing for me to fuck you up tonight.”
I watched Cairo from the corner of my eye and he looked at me for about five minutes before he finally sat down and pulled out his lighter. “The hell is wrong with you?”
“I don’t want to talk about it. And I don’t want to fight, so smoke or drink, and shut up.”
I went back to rolling and took a deep breath, trying to calm my nerves.
It was another three and a half weeks before I finally left my house again for anything more than food and small necessities. I changed my phone number, changed my locks, kept my lights off, and ignored everybody.
I went on a little smoke binge, trying to figure out what to do and where to go with my life.
Locking my door, I turned around and squinted my eyes as the bright ass sun hit them. For mid-July, it wasn’t too hot or too cold, no signs of rain and that’s the way I like it. I pulled at the bottom of my shorts and walked to my car.
Heading towards Downtown Seattle, I nodded my head to one of the many songs that could describe my relationship perfectly. “I don’t wanna fight, you used to treat me right. I don’t understand. What happened to our plan? No, I’m not supposed to cry, but boy I can’t deny what I feel inside. Feelings I can’t hide.”
Every red light, I’d take a few seconds to send texts to the people I wanted to know that I was okay. “Loving you is impossible.” After replying back to my brother a few times, I cleared my throat and thought about texting the one person I said I wouldn’t bother. King.
I mean, I did go out of my way to ignore every call, text, visit, and everything else he tried. Even saw him at the store by chance and I acted like I’d never seen him a day in my life. I wouldn’t blame him if he swerved my ass.
First, he asked who it was. Told him my name and I didn’t get anything back for about twenty minutes. By then I’d driven around most of the city, trying to find something to get myself into. For a reason I can’t even explain, I found myself parked at the far end of the drive-in.
Where u at?
I looked at Cairo’s text and ignored it before setting my phone back on my seat. He’d been coming and going as he pleased and for the first time I didn’t bother fussing or fighting with him. He’d come home drunk or high, or both, smelling like perfume with body glitter all over his clothes. He’d sink right into bed, trying to cuddle and kiss all over me but I’d push him aside and go into the living room.
According to Cairo during our last argument, my childish ways and refusal to sleep with him is giving him the perfect reason to go out and fuck with other women. As if he’s not already doing it anyway. I could be one of those nymphomaniac bitches trying to fuck him every hour of the day and he’d still find a reason to leave and get it elsewhere. He asked me why I’m acting as if I don’t care anymore. Truth is, I don’t think I do.
My phone vibrated and I picked it up, sighing as I read King’s reply. I could just see the mug on his face as he typed it.
You’re speaking to me now?
If you want to talk, yes.
I maneuvered myself into the passenger seat and propped my feet up on my dash board, waiting another twenty minutes before my phone finally vibrated in my hand. A small smile crept across my face when I saw that it was King calling but I kept my voice even. Didn’t want to seem pressed.
“I only got a few minutes to talk, what’s good?”
Well damn. “If you want to wait until another time, that’s fine with me.”
“There probably won’t be another time Loni.”
I chewed on my bottom lip before taking a deep breath. “I’m sorry King. I know you were just trying to be there and you were interested, you were kind to me and I just blew you off like you were nothing.” He said nothing. “Look, I suck at apologies so I don’t know what to say to make it better or make you not hate me.”
“I don’t hate you. I’m confused though. Why are you acting like you want to be bothered with me all of a sudden? A month ago I tried everything and even got one of those ‘Nigga I don’t know you’ brush offs. I’m just wondering if you expect me to look at you or think of you the same after you made it real clear not to get at you. I should have taken the hint that day you wouldn’t give me your number.”
“I’m glad you didn’t take the hint.”
“I’m not.” I slouched down in my seat and sighed, unsure of what to say next. I don’t know how to explain the way I feel now but the seriousness in his voice hurt me a little. “I wish I knew what it was about you that makes me want to know you, and be with you.”
“You probably feel sorry for my dumb ass.”
“If I felt sorry for you I wouldn’t have tried so hard to get you away from whoever’s hurting you. Anyway, I gotta get back to work.”
“Are you at the drive-in, or…”
“Yeah, I am.”
“I’m here. If you want to be bothered with me I’m sitting in the back of the lot, next to the fence where some cars exit.”
He hung up and I sighed, shaking my head.
Before long I’d sat through three old ass exploitation films and fallen asleep twice. After getting a few snacks from the concession, I got back in my car and slouched down in my seat, picking up my phone to call Tommy.
“Loni, what is going on with you!?”
“Look, if you’re going to yell and speak to me as if I’m your child I can hang up right now.”
“Stop being so damn angry at me for no reason. I am worried sick about you!”
“Apollonia, when did it get to the point where you felt that you couldn’t come to me? We always talk about things.”
“I talk, you preach, I cry, you judge. I’m tired of that.”
“Sis, I wouldn’t have to preach and tell you the same thing over and over if you would just…”
“Just what? Stop being dumb? Stop wasting my life?”
She took a deep breath, probably trying to choose her words carefully. “I don’t want to fight with you today, Loni. I don’t want to fight at all. I just want you to know that you deserve so much better.”
“Have you ever considered the fact that maybe I don’t? Everybody can’t be perfect like you Thomasina. Little Miss Dallas. Ms. Teen Seattle. Track star, softball star, straight-A student, pretty girl with the beautiful voice. Perfect life, perfect boyfriend, perfect everything.”
“Loni, I’m not any better than you are.”
“Yes, you are. Everything has always been in your favor. And yes, I used to be jealous as fuck but now I just don’t care. I take life as it comes to me and it just so happens that I get dealt the shitty hand. It is what it is.”
“It does not have to be like that! I’ve had bad shit happen to me too but I don’t drown in it. I don’t let the past control me or my future.” I rolled my eyes, putting her on speakerphone as I set my phone down. “I don’t care how you feel about it, I’m going to keep saying that you deserve so much more than what that asshole Cairo puts you through!”
“Ugh, you are so fucking impossible!”
“Then why the fuck do you even bother trying to tell me shit I obviously don’t want to hear?”
“Because you’re my sister, and I love you, and I will never sit back and watch you get hurt when I know there’s something that could be said and done.”
“Nah, you’re just nosy and pushy and aggravating as fuck when you can’t control something. Let me guess, since you know my new number I can expect a call from Father? Let me prep myself for the good word from the reverend today.”
Tommy chuckled to herself, cursing under her breath. There was a light knock on my window and I looked up to see King. “Tommy, I’ve gotta go.”
“I’m not done talking.”
“But I am.”
I hung up and unlocked my door, watching as King got in on the driver’s side.
He took a deep breath and closed the door before unbuttoning his jacket. “You’re here with someone?”
“Nah. It’s just easier to put my legs up on this side.” King gave a little smirk and I shook my head, already knowing where his mind went. “Pervert. Took you long enough. I was about to leave.”
“I wasn’t going to come out of my little office at first.”
“Well, at least you’re honest.” King handed me a bag of skittles and I thanked him, groaning to myself when my phone vibrated and Cairo’s picture popped up. “Sorry.”
“So that’s him, huh?”
“The fool that doesn’t know what he has. The fool making it hard as hell for me to get to what I want.”
“And just what do you want?”
I nodded and looked out my window and cleared my throat. “You don’t want me King. I’m one of those chicks that talks mad noise about doing better for herself and then I flake at the very last minute.”
“Yeah, I noticed that evening we were supposed to chill.”
“Sorry about that too.”
“You apologize for a lot, don’t you?”
I nodded. “Yep. Even for the shit I don’t do. I’m just pathetic like that.”
“You’re not pathetic. You just don’t have anyone who wants to show you how wonderful you really are. Even though it doesn’t take much or cost anything to look in the mirror and see your own worth.”
I looked him in the eye for a second, hearing nothing but my sister’s words. “I’m so tired of hearing that.”
“It’s probably a lot of shit you hear that you’re tired of.”
“I bet that clown got lies and excuses for days, and when you cry right in front of him he still doesn’t apologize or attempt to change his ways.”
“You’re right, but that’s what I like.”
“No it’s not. Do you even get what you want and need out of the relationship?”
“What type of question is that?”
“Just what I asked. Are you satisfied, happy? Do you feel special, does he treat you like his queen? The shit you do for him, does he deserve it all. Obviously you ride hard for that clown, but does he deserve a woman like you?”
“Why are you concerned? Hmm? What, you think you deserve someone like me? You don’t even know me, or anything about me. You don’t know what I do.”
“But I am more than sure whatever it is, he doesn’t appreciate you.”
I just sat quietly, refusing to answer any questions pertaining to my relationship.
King looked at me for a second before licking his lips. “What do you like to do Loni, when you’re not going around brushing niggas off?”
“Nothing at all. I sit at home all day, watch TV, smoke, and drink.”
“You don’t work?”
“Rich kid.” I cleared my throat and slouched down even further in my seat, halfway paying attention to Cooley High as it played. “I’ve got online boutique that I run with my sister, when we’re not fighting. She does earrings. I make necklaces and bracelets. It’s a lot of custom stuff and we do excellent work so it pays well. Since I’m Frugal Fran, I stack and save more than I spend. I don’t have to work if I don’t want to.”
“Look at you.”
“And what do you do for fun, aside from buying up run down businesses?”
“This was my parents’ idea. I just said I’d run it in my spare time.”
“So what do you do?”
“I’m an artist, independent. I’ll leave it at that.”
“Sing, act, paint? What do you do?”
I nodded. “Probably a good boy too.”
“I guess you can say that. I don’t smoke, drink, I avoid trouble. I’ve never stolen anything or fought anyone a day in my life. I’m respectful to all people. I like a nice, quiet, simple life.”
“Damn King, you’re no fun. Where’s your wild side?”
“I mean, I would show you but my interest in you doesn’t include getting you in my bed.”
I looked at him and bit down on my bottom lip before smiling. “I like sex. Are you telling me that you’re not interested in sleeping with me?”
King looked at me, furrowing his brows for a second. “I feel like that’s a question to set me up and make you curse me out.”
“It’s not. Honestly, I love sex, and I’m a bit of a freak. Are you really telling me that you wouldn’t want to sleep with me?”
He still looked at me, I guess trying to answer cautiously. That or he’s surprised by my frankness. “Yes, however… it’d be more than a quick fuck, or two.”
“What would it be, King?”
“I’d tell you Loni, but you’re not trying to be my woman.” I turned my nose up and rolled my eyes.
“You probably don’t even last that long.”
“I can last as long as it takes to thoroughly satisfy your body.”
“Hmmph. Probably get yours first and you’re done.”
King licked his lips, focusing on the movie screen. “You’d get yours, every time, believe that.”
Braggadocios. “Whatever. You look like one of those dudes that doesn’t like going down on his girl.”
“I love it. I bet you taste as sweet as you look too.”
King smirked before clearing his throat. “You look like one of those females who has never had a decent orgasm, at least not while getting head.”
“Excuse you? I have.”
“Not as good as it’d be with me though. You think you’re in love now but…”
Once again, I held up my hand and flashed my ring. “That thing? Loni, I barely know you and I know that you’re not in love with this clown. If you were, you aren’t anymore.”
“I am. It’s just… complicated.”
“It’s not complicated, you’re just comfortable. But, who am I to judge? We all come across people that we can’t let go of easily.”
“You should go and try to work it out with whoever you’re stuck on.”
“She’s right next to me. It’s a bit discouraging though. She keeps trying to convince me that she’s happy with settling for someone who doesn’t treat her like the queen she is.” I rolled my eyes before smiling a little. “I’ve gotta go Loni.”
King laughed and shook his head. “Maybe I’ll see you Saturday.”
“Yeah. I’ll call you and let you know what’s up. Maybe this time you won’t stand me up.”
King got out and walked away after closing my door, leaving me with a smile etched across my face.