Bobbi’s two henchmen look at me like I’s da biggest bitch dat evah been born. Like they seen Bobbi’s fat ankles an’ know how sensitive she is about ‘em. But I don’t give a lick. I say what I have ta say. An’ wit’ dat, I just turn an’ start struttin’ again. Feelin’ triumphant in some battle like I heard about in my night classes. But I ain’t so triumphant yet. I know they gonna follow me an’ see if I really kiss Willy C. An’ I will. I will. I just know it. I better.
Every once in a while, I look an’ see ‘em still close behind, knowin’ somethin’ be on they mind. KoKo an’ Janelle still snickerin’ an’ Bobbi still bickerin’, tellin’ ‘em ta hush up an’ act like they got some sense. She see me steal a quick glance at hu, an’ she look down at da street—at all da trash dere like she should be a part uh it. Like she is one uh those empty an’ crushed paper coffee cups or like she is one uh those runaway plastic bags bein’ tossed around by da wind. Like she, too, be ashamed ta be makin’ da world so ugly.
Befoe I know it, we walkin’ through da mall parkin’ lot. Me, wit’ my fly self, struttin’ like I own da place an’ da hiyalla’ girls right after me, lookin’ almost like they’re my fan club, even though they far from it. Dere is a big banner above da main entrance: TODAY, SEE BLADE THOMPSON OF DAYTIME TELEVISION’S HIGHEST RATED SOAP OPERA, THERE’S ALWAYS TOMORROW. Lord, Willy C. done changed his name ta Blade, but da only blade dat mothafucka know about is da one he shave wit’. Ain’t nevah been a nigger born wit’ dat name, an’ when we get married, I’s gonna make him change it back ta Willy C.
We enter through JC Penny’s. “Shit. Look at da line,” I hear KoKo grunt wit’ dat man’s voice uh hers. She be scratchin’ at hu crotch, too, where I’s almost positive she got male genitalia. Regardless, she is right about one thing. Da line is ungodly long. Stretchin’ all da way from da center uh da mall back into Penny’s. So many people linin’ up ta get a good look at Blade or Willy C. or whatever his name be, we cain’t even get in da mall at all so we stuck by da makeup counter where all we can breath in is rouge an’ foundation an’ also perfume. An’ on top uh all dat, da air conditioner is broke in da room. All da people have grabbed sale papers an’ be fannin’ theyselves like we in church—da stench uh sweat be emanatin’ somethin’ fierce, piercin’ my nostrils an’ havin’ me gaggin’. All da while, my feet a-draggin’, ‘cuz lord knows I hate waitin’ in lines. But his particular line leads ta Willy C. so I can take it.
Da line moves slow, but we finally make it into da actual mall. My paisley blouse had done manifested circle uh wetness, but I only paid $3.50 fo’ da blouse at da consignment shop so I ain’t too worried about it. Only hopin’ Willy C. don’t take notice, an’ hopin’ they ain’t no cabbage stuck in my teeth, too. Would hate ta wait two hours in line ta formally introduce myself ta my new beau an’ den have my teeth all cruddy. Dat would be mighty bad. An’ two hours it is. Bein’ patient while one after one uh da girls in front uh me gets hu autographed picture uh Willy C. It’s at least an hour befoe I can even get a good look at him. But it him. Da same ol’ Willy C.—dark eyes an’ deep chocolate skin, both which tend ta suck a girl in. Nope. Ain’t much changed, except he no longer dressin’ in his hood threads. He lookin’ cute in a Gucci suit in stead. Child, I think ta myself, we gonna have some beautiful young’ns, dat much is true. An’ we gonna have fun makin’ ‘em, too!
I get nudged from behind.
“Move up, Nefali,” say Janelle, soundin’ like a switchboard operator wit’ a sinus infection.
“We know you cheap, but cain’t you afford ta pay attention?” KoKo start laughin’ like she just said a funny somethin’ nobody ain’t nevah heard befoe.
An’ Bobbi? She keepin’ hu mouth shut, uh course. Just standin’ dere, quiet an’ actin’ innocent an’ timid like Bambi after its mother got shot. Actin’ like she acted dat day in da locker room after gym class. Da day I ax’ed hu, “Why you don’t have ta evah participate? Why you don’t evah have ta break a sweat? You too good? Might mess up all your fake hair?” She had just looked down at hu shoes, hidden by a long sundress, an’ she said, “I have abnormally fat ankles.” She full uh excuses. An’ she full uh shit. An’ she can act all she want ta, but I know she devious through an’ through.
I hear some girls giggle ahead, an’ I pinch myself ta make sho’ I’s not dead. Only four girls in front uh me. Now three…now two…now one. Some white bitch wit’ hu blonde hair fallin’ half down hu back, almost ta hu ass crack. She lean over da table where Willy C. be sittin’, an’ hu butt cheeks nearly fall outta da bottom uh hu cut-off jean shorts. Floozie. Cheap. An’ den she be all up in Willy C.’s ear, whisperin’ this an’ dat. Den she start laughin’ all breathy, an’ she go away. Now, it’s just him an’ me. Me an’ Willy C. I start thinkin’ uh all da things I need ta say. Things like, I’s Nefali, Ndali’s lil’ sista. You remember Ndali, don’tcha, Willy C.—uh—Blade, I mean? An’ like, I knew since da first time I seen you kissin’ Nefali, you’d one day be kissin’ me. I’s been thinkin’ about this moment fo’ almost five years. An’ dat’s when we’d kiss an’ he’d ax’ me ta marry him. An’ da hiyalla’ girls would all think I was top dawg even though I’s as black as da ace uh spades, an’ they’d all kiss my ass an’ wanna be my bridesmaids. But befoe I can even get a word out, Willy C. say, “Excuse me baby. My bladder’s about ta bust.” An’ he walk off suspiciously ta da bathroom wit’ mall security standin’ in front uh da do’, makin’ sho’ no crazy girls go in after him.
“Dat’s some kiss he just gave you,” smirk KoKo.
“He told me he gotta go freshen up.”
“Uh huh,” say Janelle, doubtfully.
Bobbi begin ta say somethin’, most likely in my defense ‘cuz she always tryin’ ta pull one over on me. But—shit—if looks could kill, she’d be Tupac. She hush up befoe any words could even escape hu lil’ hiyalla’ mouth, an’ hu glance continue due south. She begin lookin’ at hu sneakers sweepin’ da flo’ from side ta side. An’ I smile, triumphant yet again. An’ den I begin ta wait. An’ wait. An’ wait some more, like waitin’ two hours ain’t long ‘nuff.
“Damn. What he doin’ in dere?” ax’ Janelle. But, hell, I don’t care as long as he come out ready ta pucker, my African King, Gucci suit-wearin’, mothafucka. Den I realize it has been a long time. At least fifteen minutes. Da security guard still in front uh da do’, not payin’ much attention ta da mall, though. Got his ear crammed up against da wood, listenin’ ta whatever is goin’ on inside. Smilin’. Nevah seen a smile so wide. An’ I just cain’t take it no more. I’s gonna kiss Willy C. even if it means waltzin’ in dere an’ slippin’ on his pee.
I put my fists on my waist an’ hold my head high, an’ I march toward da guard wit’ this confident look in my eye. Da girls is followin’ close behind, right on my tail, even though they ain’t dark ‘nuff ta be nobody’s shadow. “Whatcha gonna do, Nefali?” Bobbi ax’, all concerned I’s gonna cause a scene, an’ dat’s exactly what I’s fixin’ ta do.
Wit’ all da attitude I can muster, I say, “Excuse me.” I cut my eyes ta da security guard who don’t acknowledge me at first. His badge say Burt so I repeat a lil’ louder, “Excuse me, Burt.” He hear his name an’ turn around. I look straight up his white Irish nose where red, unkept hairs be pokin’ out. Need ta do some groomin’ on dat snout.
“Willy C. in dere?”
“Yes, he is. What’s it to you? Doesn’t a man have a right to take a leak?”
“Don’t sound like nothin’s leakin’.”
“Maybe something is, and maybe something isn’t.”
“Well, you tell him Nefali Brown out here, an’ she waitin’ fo’ hu kiss.”
“Nefali Brown. Lil’ sista ta Ndali Brown.”
“Well, listen, missy. Mr. Thompson will be out when he’s good and ready. You’ll have to wait in line like everyone else. And speaking of the line,” he gleamed, “you and your friends just lost your place.” I look back ta where we was standin’, an’ people have already stepped up, an’ da line is still stretchin’ all da way down da mall. Burt chuckles almost ta hisself an’ turns back ta eavesdrop through da do’. But I won’t allow him ta no more.
“Listen. I come ta kiss Willy C., an’ if you won’t tell him ta come out, I’s gonna go in.” An’ I grin at Burt wit’ his wayward nose whiskers, crossin’ my arms in front uh my ninnies ta show him I mean bid’ness.
“Over my dead—“
I raise my knee an’ make contact wit’ Burt’s wee-willy white dick, an’ he double over, alluva sudden feelin’ sick. He fall ta da ground turnin’ all weird shades, an’ KoKo gasps an’ laughs from behind hu braids. An’ just as proud as evah, I shove open da do’ ta boy’s room so hard, it bangs up against da wall. Dat’s when my smile change. Plain went away. Only my beautifully full lips left ta tremble ‘cuz Blade be fuckin’ some whoe on da bathroom flo’. Not a black-black girl. Not a hiyalla’ girl. A white girl. Da white bitch who’d been in line in front uh me. Now hu legs are restin’ on Blade’s shoulders an’ he’s poundin’ hu good. Right dere, beneath da sink. Among da shit-stink. Don’t even stop when they see my face. Don’t even stop when they see me almost faint. An’ I guess they cain’t ‘cuz they’re both ready ta cum. An’ dere I is, speechless an’ dumb.
“You should see da look on your face, Nefali,” say KoKo. “You look like a damn fool.” An’ those two bitches, KoKo an’ Janelle, fall into each other cacklin’. An’ I try ta run, but Bobbi standin’ dere, hu hand reachin’ out ta me like she wanna hold me an’ comfort me. But she fake all over. Gonna bring me in an’ trick me. Gonna do somethin’ sneaky ‘cuz she’s beautiful an’ don’t know what it’s like ta be diff’rent. Maybe if I was closer ta bein’ white like hu, Willy C. wouldn’t have disappeared. Maybe if I was hiyalla’—even wit’ fat ankles—Willy C. woulda kissed me.
So I see Bobbi’s hand reachin’ out fo’ me, an’ I get so mad, I take hu an’ push hu ta da ground. An’ I take off runnin’, tryin’ not ta look back, but I do an’ Bobbi on da ground, hurt. Hu long skirt is hiked up toward hu belly, an’ I see she ain’t got fat ankles at all. She ain’t even got ankles. Just metal poles fo’ legs, an’ I begs da good lord fo’ forgiveness as I keep runnin’.
Tears be streakin’ down my face, an’ snot be formin’ in my nostrils. I bust outta Penny’s an’ keep runnin’. Da sun is gone now, an’ I look fo’ da moon. It’s a disgrace ta all things celestial, so full an’ fat it cain’t even rise above da buildings. But I know it’s dere ‘cuz I can see it glowin’ behind da silhouette uh da city. An’ I’s feelin’ mighty shitty, thinkin’ about Blade an’ wonderin’ what he done did wit’ my Willy C. An’ thinkin’ about Bobbi McDonald—how I hate hu more than evah befoe. She tricked me. Tricked me good. Tricked me into bein’ a bad person. An’ I scream out into da night, “SUBTERFUGE! SUBTERFUGE!”
When Brock was in 3rd grade and learning the basics of grammar, his teacher approached him, asking him what part of speech the word "boy" was. He replied, " 'Boy' is a verb." Of course, she cackled like the witch she was and proceeded to question him on why he ever thought of "boy" as a verb. Sheepishly, he told her--along with the class--he felt "boy" was an action moreso than a tangible object. Don't get me wrong. Lil' Brock wasn't being profound. He was just really stupid.
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