Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Love on the Savanna by James Royce McGuire

Lequetta's relationship with her white boyfriend is threatened by racism, but not necessarily his; by James Royce McGuire.

Cheese and crackers for lunch.

That's what Lequetta thought. And boy did she realize she was dating a cracker. An A-number-one A-hole. At first, she thought his digs were cute. That he didn't have black fever. He didn't even like soul food after all. She'd ignored all that because she was swooning with love. But of course, that honeymoon phase always ends. The feelings of the heart fluttering, the waking up as if sleeping in chocolate and wine and strawberries was starting to wane. And she had started to see the reality of the situation.

Her sister was the first one to say it. "What in the hell are you dating some cracker for?"

Lequetta merely scoffed. Her sister was just jealous. She was landing a man, not some bum. And they were gonna be like the song Ebony and Ivory. He even had a good job, like her.

Lequetta started out as a dental hygienist. She had made a decent living at that, but like anyone else grew tired of sticking her fingers into other people's mouths. So she'd tried a few different careers: Writer (she wasn't disciplined enough), web designer (she wasn't disciplined enough) freelance proofreader (too boring) and finally television producer, which she sorta liked. And the industry liked her as well. It was multi-cultural, they let her appreciate her black heritage, and at the same time she worked with a large variety of people: Gay, straight, Korean, Chinese. All kinds.

Then she met him. He was white. As white as they come. A frat boy with a Texan accent. He was muscled, white, defined, white, a full head of chestnut curly hair, white, smooth and white. Creamy like cream. Milky like milk.

They lay in Central Park, her head in his lap. Inside her head, she kept hearing what he'd said a week ago. She'd arrived early to his office, where he worked as a graphic artist for ESPN, and had heard him say something like, "Yeah, we've been dating for three weeks now. Yeah, she's black. And I mean, really black. Hell. She still has a bone through her nose from the Serengeti, she's so black."

She wasn't sure what to do when she'd heard it, felt rattled, like in a small earthquake or a shaman's instrument. So she did what any self-respecting citizen would do. She ignored it. He was probably only joking, she thought. But, even though she tried to ignore it, it became like a very sore planter's wart on the bottom of her foot, like a pebble in her shoe. Irrupting, painful and downright stabbing.

She looked up at him.

He caressed her head and then placed it on the grass.

He then leaned back. "Yeah, the boss wants me to go to dinner with him Saturday. Told me to bring someone. I thought of you."

Normally she'd be thrilled that he wanted her to go.

He brushed back his hair. She watched him glance over at her to make sure she would smile and approve whole-heartedly. Instead, she rolled her eyes.

He said, "Uh. Of course. We don't have to go. It'll be boring anyway."

His cockiness now repulsed her. Why had she mistaken that for confidence? It was arrogance, plain and simple. She wanted to run from the park as fast as she could, like a marathon runner from Kenya. She wanted to never see him again in her life. She wanted to hit him as hard as she could in the face, in his gut, and in his big pinkish very white dick.

Instead she looked up at him and smiled. "No, don't be silly. We can go. When is it again?"

"In three days. This Saturday."

The next day, the planter's wart in her foot had become lung cancer. Then, the metaphoric cancer spread throughout her whole body. She almost couldn't stand the thought of this cracker. She dreaded their meetings and hated herself for not being stronger, strong enough to dump his ass. She wanted to dump him, but was terrible at confrontation. She also knew he'd talk her out of it. The only way she could successfully dump a guy was to simply ignore him. If he called, she wouldn't return those calls, if he e-mailed, she'd hit the delete button.

That afternoon, they met for lunch. It was a café in midtown. She ordered a Cobb salad and he was having mussels. What she once thought was charming and European now repulsed her. These things live off others, they feed on dung and filth. And he slurped, chomped, smacked and gobbled them up like the Walrus and the Carpenter. Ew!

"Well, I think I'm getting another raise. I thought maybe we could take a vacation. Not just anywhere, but to some island." He licked his fingers like Col. Sanders.

She smiled. Was he being racist? An island?

"That'll be nice," she said.

"Yeah. I spent about ten thousand last time I took a girl there." He paused and raised his eyebrows as if to say, "Well aren't you impressed?"

"Wow," she said, monotone.

God, she thought. What a dick. She couldn't wait to leave.

"Listen," she said. "We need to talk..."

"Nope I won't hear of it. I'll pay for the entire thing..."

A free trip? Couldn't she break up with him after that? She wondered which island.

When she got back to work, she wanted to dump him immediately. What was that silly Simon and Garfunkel song? Slip out the back, Jack. Make a new plan, Stan. Don't need to be coy, Roy. Just listen to me. But there was his big boss' dinner coming up. And now a trip to some island. He even assured her he wasn't racist. Or had he? She didn't want to be rude.

Saturday arrived. They arrived at the dinner party. Attending were the boss, his wife, the young man, Lequetta, and another couple who worked at ESPN. The dinner was catered and the chef, a jolly gay guy, and his young thing were cooking away. They started with hors d'oeuvres , shrimp in butter and garlic with toothpicks, grapes with mole topping, and chicken satay. The appetizers kept coming and coming. Blue cheese on whole grain crackers and mini Chinese takee-outee peanut-oiled noodles.

So did the cosmos, the apple martinis, and the sparkling Prosecco.

Pretty soon Lequetta looked up and her cracker-ass boyfriend was saying, "I don't think you should have any more to drink, honey."

She threw down her flute. Someone gasped. The room became silent.

"Don't you tell me what to do, honky. I ain't your slave."

"Please dear..."

"And I ain't your bitch, bitch."

She stormed out, caught a cab and passed out cold in her apartment.

The next day, she called in sick to work.

She was hung over and with that came the inevitable depression.

But she didn't care. She felt oddly good.

The phone rang and rang that day. She knew who it was. She turned it off, turned on the television, called for take out and opened a large bottle of Gatorade.

2 comments:

  1. i like this, a different slant to the usual, but well defined characters, Food for thought

    Michael mccarthy

    ReplyDelete
  2. Good female voice for a (presumably) male writer.
    Nick Wilding

    ReplyDelete