I already know what it is,
and he already knows what we’re doing.
If you wanted this to be something sugary and sweet you could have called a lover, but you didn’t. You called me in the middle of the night knowing that I was going to cancel a whole night’s rest, and fuck up my entire tomorrow in advance.
When I get there, we share a cigarette.
He don’t waste much time stripping down from work clothes. Unlatches his shoes, unzips his trousers. He’s anything but shy and parts of him half-hang out of his underclothes, finally relaxed and free after a long ass day where ain’t nobody said thank you, where ain’t nobody asked our black ass opinions. Folks don’t even look you in the eye.
He says he doesn’t care much. He shows up when he’s supposed to, and clocks out when he’s done. He knows how to get by.
I’m mouthy. I’ve been mouthy and I’ll be mouthy until my time here on this earth is about done and that’ll probably be the reason I leave. Too much mouth for the job,
but just enough for him.
He knows better than to listen too carefully when I fake complain about getting his call after midnight. He smiles while I rant and pulls one more cigarette from the pack and lights it with a loose match he retrieves from his trouser pocket. We share this one too.
He only tells me about his day if I ask specifics, and he only answers in two or three words at a time if he has to.
What he will do is let me talk endlessly about whatever the hell I’d like ’cause I’m the one who left my apartment after midnight. and even if he lays around almost dressed, he never rushes me into anything, even though we both work early tomorrow.
I think he’d be alright if I just came by to smoke all of his cigarettes, so long as I looked him in the eye and made him feel like a person while I did it. Let him know I see him there looking good and smelling like work.
Remind him I know his middle name, and that I know he ain’t really moving back to where he came from.
He ain’t going back to dating yellow girls from good families and smiling pretty when they talk about children’s names.
Ain’t nothing back there.
and shit, not much here either.
But at least here, for just a couple hours after we smoke and do grown things men do, but never with each other, he feels like somebody,
and maybe I feel like somebody too.