Saturday, November 26, 2005

Chapter 27 (46,337 words out of 50,000)

27.

I haven’t spoken to Charles in fucking months – haven’t really had the time too. He has his thing, I have mine. Last I heard he’s living in some upper management type’s basement – been there for about seven weeks now, a bit longer than his usual stay so this cat could have something worth holding onto or Charles is running out of boarders. Charles stayed at this one guys place for about four months because he was fucking the dude’s daughter – I think that’s his record. Charles gives me the big smile he gives everybody, asks me if it’ll be turkey like the rest of these white folk, I tell him us mullato types are partial to ham for some fucking reason – he just laughs and asks if I want it cut thin, his chorus of “hip” white folks all giggle and smirk and if I’m the outsider experiencing Charles for the first time – as if Charles didn’t just give me a wink indicating he has his next five places to stay lined up. He hands me my ham that I have no intention of eating and I quietly tell him hat we should talk – he announces his break to all of the white folks’ dismay – none of them want the hairy, dirty grungy looking dude with the hairnet on his beard to slice their honey maple turkey and proscuitto.

It’s cold out – December is rarely this cold – Charles likes to smoke during his break – sometimes cigarettes, sometimes dope. Depends on if it’s the holiday season or not. “You want some of this?”

“Nah – I’m good.” Charles gets some swag – I don’t smoke dope all of the time but when I do I like to make sure it’s not the type of shit you buy off some Jamaican fuck in Washington Square Park.

“Then just keep a look out.” He lights it up and tokes two like a pro, I’ve seen this guy suck down a fatty in less than a minute – it’s like a fucking super-power. “So what’s been going on, man?”

“Nothing, bro. Same shit.”

“Ain’t what I heard – I heard you’re shacking up with some white bitch.” By being a butcher is such a hoity-toity neighborhood Charles hears more gossip than anyone I’ve ever met. Seriously, this cat has talked to everybody who’s everybody in New York or at least overheard them talking about paying off someone’s abortion.

“I ain’t shacking up – I’ve just sort of been screwing around with her.” It’s not good that information like this gets to Charles; guys like Charles – guys like me – see this as a sign of weakness, like I’m out of the game. Next thing you know he’ll be working my party circuit, trying to learn the ropes – using his “negro-slave charm” to worm his way into the houses of a whole new clientele.

“Shit, I heard you were going to fucking Disney World with this bitch.” Goddamn people talk. At this rate Charles will be trying to con me into putting him up for a month.

“I have my angle.” He gives me a knowing eye, I got blood in the water and this fuck knows it – he smells it. “Look, bro, you know some guy named Ed Stevens?”

“Stevens?”

“Yeah, Stevens.” I’ve seen that look in Charles’ eye before – I should just end this shit right now.

“Black dude? Right? A black dude?”

He doesn’t know him – I think I’ve seen this exact routine. “So you don’t know him?”

“No – why’d you think I would? ‘Cause I’m black? All us black folk hang out?” He’s good, I’ll tell you that much. If it wasn’t for the fact that I agreed with what he was saying I’d probably feel a pang of guilt. It takes a black man five seconds to call another black man his brother or his cousin. You go to a black club and you feel like you intruded at a family reunion – when they’re not fighting each other they’re the best of fucking friends – every single one of them. I honestly think that every black person in New York has, at one time, gave a pound to every other black person in New York. Now, as far as how long they retain that information is up for debate.

“Don’t pull the nigger routine with me, bro.” He takes a toke, smiles, and toasts to me – I’m not out of it yet, Charles knows I’m the fucking master at this shit. “He works at the Starbucks across the street – just started there.”

“I fucking hate Starbucks.” There must be a gene that correlates intelligence to hatred for Starbucks.

“Well – Agatha works there too.” Fuck.

“Hold up. HOLD UP. This bitch you’ve been with for, what, two months?”

It’s been three. “Yeah – two months.”

“Works in a fucking Starbucks?” What’s funny is – everyone else I tell that too they completely understand – Starbucks is a perfectly respectable job. Dudes like Charles – dudes like me – we understand that there is nothing good to come of working at a Starbucks. This person likely has nothing to offer the world except for over-processed coffee drinks.

“I have my angle.”

“It better be a good one.” The whole mood shifts – Charles lost his faith in me – he doesn’t even want to be in this conversation anymore.

“Look – I fucked this guy Ed hard, recently. He was working at my office for a week and in that time I distributed pictures of him fucking a hooker in Atlanta to everyone he knows and everyone at work – getting him fired, causing his girlfriend to leave him and his family to shun him.” Charles pick up on that one – he gives me a loving smile – that’s some hardcore shit and he knows it.

“Aight, aight – so what you need from me?”

He’ll take this fine, I imagine. “I need you to talk to him – about Agatha – he can fuck up my work with little effort.”

“You want me to do the whole “nigger brotherood” angle.” That was easy.

“Yeah. Yeah, that would be great.”

“You know that doesn’t always work, right?” He takes the last two puffs of his joint – it’s amazing, really, he sucked that thing down like it was a fucking cigarette.

“How you mean?” Straight from the horse’s mouth, I suppose.

“There’s a lot of jealousy there – almost instantly. Niggas get jealous if you’re shoes are nicer than there’s or if you’re taller than them – you got to play into that but it’s tough to do.” That’s really fucking good information right there. No wonder I don’t have a lot of success with black people – at least not the real ones – I always thought my mom instilled a sense of white man’s guilt into me when I was in the womb. “That’s why you don’t roll with many niggas.”

Yeah, that and the fact that not many of them have much worth offering – at least not the real ones, again. It would be fun to get in with some rap producer or athlete but, I don’t know, I’d rather know the rich white guy that writes their checks. “But you think you can poke around a bit – see if he has anything planned?”

“Yeah – but I don’t see what’s in it for me.” Guys like us – we don’t shit unless there’s something in it for us – unless we can see someway to play it out way.

We usually end up trading a contact. I’ll do better than that for Charles; I’ll give him a whole new fucking scene. There’s only so much you can do as a butcher – it’s good enough for what he’s trying to do. But we all have aspirations beyond our current disposition and Charles has been looking for an in. Being a butcher, most rich folks wuld rather him stay at home or go out with his negro friends – he doesn’t get to work my scene much – that’s the fucking big leagues – that’s where you can go for anything you want. A butcher conning a place to stay is one thing. A butcher conning free dinner at Manhattan’s most exclusive restaurant – that’s practically fucking impossible. “How about a rich black couple with tons of racial guilt who throw the best fucking parties filled with the every contact guys like us fucking salivate over.”

He drops his blunt and gives me a look of disbelief.

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