“Love is an epiphany that awakens the soul
it comes suddenly and you’ll never forget it”
Stalker! I was right. It had to be a little after Easter Sunday. I walked into the deli on Forty-First to see Vinny and get my sausage and cheese bagel and Ocean Spray cranberry juice; my usual.
Andreni was in line in the store, acting like he didn’t see me. Nose to the sky, phone in his hand, he turned his head away from me as soon as I got in the door. He wanted to play cute. Okay, cool. I grabbed my cranberry juice and skipped right in front of him. He is taller than me now by three or four inches, but back then, I had him. I shook my J-Lo-influenced ponytail right in his face. Then I heard “Pardon me, miss. This is a line. You do know that, right?” The base was too strong. The word choice was too rocky, and his breath was raw. I spun around, and it wasn’t even Andreni. My silly ass.
Then I saw him on Forty-Second Street walking through traffic. Nope I lied. Another time he stood on the corner staring at the New York Post, indecisive as if he were gonna buy it. I just knew it was him every time. I saw my stalker everywhere he wasn’t. We never exchanged numbers at the fashion show. Silly me. This wasn’t at the peak of social media where I could just hit him on Instagram. It goes down in the DM. Myspace was in, but that wasn’t his style. Not being able to see him was not my style. I blamed my delusion on my all-red Dolce&Gabbanas. So I went and brought these Pradas. You know, I gotta switch up. It became addicting, but thats a deeper story. Everybody was minding their business, but everybody paid attention as well. TMZ is real. I wasn’t gonna be on TMZ. You know what I mean? I just wanted to be on the mind of Andreni.
I remember one day after class it was raining hard. I mean Noah’s Ark–type of weather. I’m talking about put-a-bag-on-your-head -and-pray-your-blow-out-don’t-get-ruined type of weather. I looked up the stairs out the exit off the C train as if it were raining fire. I used the courage I had and prepared to dash once I hit the top of the stairs. On my good foot, I heard a horn. I never respond to horns. Horns literally sound off all day; I mean, this is New York City, hello!
Vroom, vroom, vroom. A loud-ass Vin Diesel–type Civic’s motor kept revving, mixed with the horn. STALKER!! I was on his mind. Thank God, Andreni pushed the door of his low-ass hatchback open. A knight in shining armor or something like that. I got in posthaste. The seat didn’t recline. I felt like I was sitting on the floor. It smelled like weed. Old weed, new weed, burning weed. The shifter had a rag wrapped around the top. I didn’t mind. Oh no, I didn’t mind one bit. He drove me to what he thought was my building. I corrected him. I thought about inviting him in, then I thought twice. He was liable to decline. He wasn’t thirsty, or he suppressed it well.
At the time, I haven’t had anyone over since breast cancer claimed my aunt/guardian the November before. I inherited the apartment and acted like she was still alive. I would tell Janet, “Aunt Venette doesn’t want anyone over.” I was just being safe. I was going to school, and I could not afford to fail and mess up my financial aid like 85 percent of the girls I knew.
His phone chimed, plugged into the cigarette outlet. He pulled it out of the console. It laid on top of who knows how many Dutch Masters. He answered it on speaker.
“Mr. Tachyon, your order will be ready in twenty minutes.”
Tachyon. Andreni Tachyon. Cinema Tachyon. Mr. and Mrs. Tachyon. I scribbled in my mind.
“Thank you. I’ll be there.”
He was so polite and professional. I didn’t know where there was, but I wanted to go. Another short encounter with a few laughs.
I finally reached for his phone. I was going to demand a call after I put my number in. “So soon?” I puppied.
“Yeah, Junior’s Cheesecake.”
This guy smokes all day and eats Junior’s. Tuh. “What’s the occasion?”
“Oh, Clair is pregnant. She loves Junior’s after oxtails, rice, and peas.”
I couldn’t believe my precious ears. He was not that fly, fresh, or stupid.
“Clair?” I faced him, reluctant on punching the fifth digit in. No attitude, but insisting on some insight.
He gave me none as if I were down to hear the story about how she was just keeping the baby. They were not together anymore. Or even the proposal of being a side chick. Yeah, right. Would I have even considered that? If I were a side chick, did that put me next in line to be first? It didn’t matter. I was second to none.
“My brother’s baby mother, Clair. That’s my homey.”
What a relief; my thumb completed my cell number. I couldn’t save my name because my number was already saved.
* * *
Our first official date was actually a stroll. We shared a nut cracker and wounded up in the Whole Foods somehow. It was his idea. He pretty much just opened the door, and I followed; such a gentleman.
We ran our mouths in front of Bryant Park, and it hit me. This wasn’t a boy. He was the maturest guy I ever dealt with. I even felt more womanly from our conversations. We spoke about the price of milk, how to build credit and goals. He was challenging me, making me look at what was going on around me and making me look at the future. He wanted to make me better. I love a challenge. Let the games begin. Andreni became my opponent. A good opponent sheds light on your flaws. Then help you polish them and vice versa. A relationship is the ultimate challenge. If I weren’t in love, he sure had this diva fooled.
Valentines 2009—our third one. He got me a Pandora bracelet and the matching necklace. I should really kill it tonight with these. Last time I wore them, he sizzled my thermometer. He set a blaze to my river. We were like headlights shining at the same damn time. I was and still am his other half.
Life was not there at this time, if you know what I mean. We were there, but so much mess didn’t exist. If I weren’t in love, then love was in me.
I got my nails done less, just maintenance on my real ones. I checked my Facebook less. I made him an account, which grew to be the restaurant’s page. I scratched the X6 and didn’t even care. Life was so easy.
All of me was blended and poured into a champagne glass. He downed it and nourished himself. He nourished me. I gave him manicures while he soaked in peppermint baths. I blended his shakes before I went to school. I did Navy SEAL core routines because he liked the V on my lower abs. I even trimmed his crotch, balls, and ass. He was my man. Doing for him was doing for me. We did for us.
Every seed life planted became a rose. No dandelions or reckless weeds, just brilliant roses. Bad songs on the radio became appealing. Rose. Okra in baked fish wasn’t slimy. It was juicy. Rose. The “I don’t give a fuck” that Andreni possessed was embedded in me. Rose. Rose. Rose.
Excuse my language, but I didn’t give a fuck about seedless watermelons. I didn’t give a fuck about fashion week. I didn’t and still don’t give a fuck about my dad, Allen Wynt, who was beyond pitiful—the captain of the deadbeat team. Others’ opinions were feeble; friendships were tainted. I owed American Express about seven grand, but I didn’t give a fuck.
No damsel should give a fuck once she is saved. I allowed Andreni to save me and rescue me from my flaws. My short rebellious hair. My swollen, mourning face. My lack of interest in religion. My gassy reaction to coffee.
Oh, baby. He made me promise one time that if I passed gas in the bedroom, I would have to sing at Grand Central station with a guitar for tips, in a sweat suit. OMG is right. Sure enough, a trip to Starbucks did it. It was a silent bomb. I couldn’t Febreze it fast enough.
“A deal is a deal, crumb cakes.” He got very serious about deals. Crumb cakes was the nom de plume he coined. He loved to use it, and I loved to hear it.
I was rocking my rimless Gucci’s with my Air Maxes. I tried to make the sweat suit look like a lil . . . shh . . . I don’t know, but I didn’t look homeless. Confused, yes. I looked like I was fresh out of Bedford Hills Correctional Facility. He knew I couldn’t sing even though I was Rihanna in the shower. That was who he wanted me to be.
“It would be light work babe,You know all the words already.”
“Come on, rude boy boy, can you get it up?”
I sang with confidence to get it over with. I never struck the guitar. I had never seen Rihanna with one, so I stood it up and danced around it.
Could you believe a real homeless man chucked me a portion of his earnings into the guitar case? Who said New York was buried in cold hearts? Andreni said he just wanted me to shut up.
After several minutes, he crept around with the phone in his hand, making sure he filmed me. A slow sway, an almost smile, eyes on the prize. The closer he stepped, the more I did my dance. He loved to see me dip. Eyes locked, traffic zoomed around him. His pace was confusing. I knew what he was thinking though. His salivary glands went in overdrive. He tilted his face up a tad. I guess it was an involuntary drool-prevention mechanism.
You make ’em drool, Cinema.
Yes, I do.
If we had it our way, I would have let him take me right there. He was not shy. He had the equipment to boast. I was not shy because I was safe with him. Andreni and I got it in in public before, not ‘Grand Central Station public’, but we definitely made love. He was the contractor; I was the architect. We made record-breaking skyscrapers of love.
It was my Warby Parkers and I. I did some silent, hot whining with my panties excused and dress lapped to my stomach. We were at Barnes and Noble. Leave it to him to wander into a sex education section. Position for the Mission was the name of the lil orange hardcover he found. Inside were animated driving-test dummies acting out a plethora of sexual positions. We found one we could get away with, and we did it. We ended up leaving, not buying a book or doing what we came there for. I felt like the lady who ate an entire bag of grapes during grocery shopping then convinced herself she was not a thief. We were not thieves; we were in love. The thief was the NYPD officers that stole my man the night before my graduation. This was a pivotal part of my challenge. We were no longer practicing. We went back to being teammates—us against the world. All we had learnt was put to the test. That’s when I learnt how much I didn’t give a fuck!
“If you are not brave enough to try you won’t get far”
Andreni C. Tachyon
I let the top down because I felt like it. These windows won’t do. I gotta let some of this shit off me, shed some skin, and break this big Benz in. YOU FEEL ME! I love screaming at the sky.
THE SKY IS CLEAR.
MY ONLY CARE
IS TO NEVER FEAR!
Don’t act like that, like you been around. You the reader, don’t judge me. You don’t know me or her. Last I checked I proposed to her eleven years ago. Yeah, you read right. I asked her to marry me the summer iPhones came out, when Barack stepped fully into our lives. Before Benz even made a GT. Okay, I was in prison when I asked her to marry me, not impressive, but it was real. I made my twenty-three-year-old mind up. I bought her a ring and spent more than I could afford.
“I knew it will be nice, but I didn’t expect this,” verbatim out her excited mouth. Best of all, she said yes.
There are different types of yeses. Some say yes solely because they want to be married. Claimed. Secured. They want to wear the ring and gloss their lips with their left hand at every traffic light. They want the “I made it” feeling, the “someone wants me forever” feeling, or that “kaboom in ya face” feeling. They want to plan. They want to decorate and strategically invite haters. Plus the whole shopping experience. Some say yes because they actually would love the opportunity to grow old and prosper with the proposer.
I opined that Cinema said yes because at that very second it was the thing to say. Not saying she did or didn’t truly mean it, or it was out of pity and not unfeigned. But at that very second, her heart spat out the three-letter word. I would have said yes too. I would love to marry me. I’m just like a sports car. Made for someone but not everyone. Mr. or Mrs. Right is made. She is earned and designed via tribulation and forgiveness. To tolerate and understand my perfection, imperfection, and four-years sentence is probably what stalled her. Now all of a sudden she want a “nuptial agreement”
Now what? We’re engaged. We haven’t went for a walk together in so long. Over a year maybe. We share a home, a loft, a restaurant, a bank account, and it’s still silent by the days. I should drive down Broadway and get on the Brooklyn Bridge.
The music turns down. It’s my brother Malichi calling. He is a shade darker and an inch taller. Our features led many to believe we were identical twins. Mali had a teardrop tattooed under each eye, vertically beginning under his eyelashes. With the hard resemblance, we were on two different axises.
“Mali, what’s good?”
“What do you want to eat, Andy?”
“Nah, I ain’t plan on coming through. Maybe later.”
“You’re not outside in that 440?”
69 Thank You’s is a high-end restaurant on Queens Boulevard. Cinema and I own it. A nice dine. Great healthy dishes after midnight. VIP reservations till 7 a.m. You get a real meek dark section, true privacy. Celebrities appreciate that. We got showgirls if you request them. We got oily bowtie-flex-magazine waiters. We got valets that drive you home or to the nearest hotel if the patron adds up too fast.”
The 440 is the sedan I bought Kimmy. Light Beamer. Kimmy is the woman I’ve been cooling with. I’m not claiming her. We share nice times. She’s definitely soaring. Brazilian, really from Brazil, not just her hair—too short to model but too pretty to be disqualified. I’ve never mentioned her to Cinema. I never had a reason to, but with her harpy nature, she knows all about Kimmy Zelucci.
We didn’t plan anything. I don’t know why Kimmy is at 69 Thank You’s. I didn’t even hear from her all day or yesterday.
“Mali, I’m on the west side, clearing my head. I don’t know what she’s waiting on. She is there on her own as a regular customer.”
“Understood. I’m walking outside right now.”
I could see Mali in his suit, expensive watch, his long evil witch fingers, with “I’ma get to the bottom of this” face on. He runs the restaurant.
“I got the drive. You’re the backbone, bro.” His words. He kept things tight, and I love that.
“I better not see Cinema driving this, Andy.”
“It wouldn’t surprise me, but she is at home, just left her like twenty minutes ago.”
“How is she?”
“She wants to get married.”
I hear his signature laugh, his shoe tapping on the floor with a rapid in-place sprint. Mali is packed with antics, a comical animated style. We all went to Canada to watch US win the World Cup. That weekend we studied, anticipated, and voted on our favorite Malichi antics.
“You thought you was gonna get away.” He laughs some more. “She just wants the honeymoon babe, bro. Trust me. Take her to Turks and Caicos, put scoops of ice cream on her back, let it melt down her . . . easy now . . . I’ll teach ya, Andy, yes I can. You can stay as long as you want. I won’t kill nobody.”
He joked about it, but Mali recently beat trail for the second time. In both times, murder was the top charge. This time he was in Jersey and was able to get a bail. One million cash and he was able to be with his three kids: Penelope, Jess, and Uni.
No two people are alike. Not everybody is passive. Not everybody can let certain things slide, forgive, or move on. This is Mali, a ball player with an attitude.
A little before I met Cinema, Mali saw one of his old crimies Far Rock boy who did him wrong over little to no money. Mali tossed his Saint John’s scholarship right out the window when he saw homeboy. He killed him in the car. Drove to the other side of town and left him on the back blocks. He stiff-armed him out the door when the time was right.
More recently, some dick went to Lig’s kennel, cursing and arguing with my autistic little brother and pointing his finger in Alice’s faces. Alice is the nurse we hired to look after Lig. The two of them did something really rare. They fell in love and stayed there, about five to six years now. Crazy, right?
Mali sat in his caddy and watched the whole commotion. Sunk in his seat humble as can be, I imagine. Police cuffed that dick and took ’em for harassment and disorderly conduct and whatever else. Six hours later, he was out. Mali was right there. One shot. One kill. He slumped him on the bottom step of the precinct and left the .38 on his chest. He’s just like that. Especially when it came to family.
“You hear me, Mali? Sex cures a lot of things, but this is deeper than romance.”
“Ain’t nobody even in the car”
“With me right now?”
“Nah, the 440 is right here, empty in the handicap spot. Bruh I know your car, or your fling-thing car. Midnight violet, license plate KAR ASAP. A bag is there, some shoes, coco Chanels. Yeah, I know you brought these.”
“I ain’t buy them shoes.”
“You bought these shoes, that bag, her car. You would have bought her body if she needed it.” He could make me laugh with his Charlie Murphy swag (rest in peace).
“So what you gonna do, Andy?”
“I ain’t gonna do shit.”
“You gonna marry Cinema or not?”
“I will call you back.”
“Drive safe, Andy.”
Mali asked the million-dollar question. I got questions of the same value, like What would change between us? Where would marriage really take us?
I got sixty to seventy years left on earth. Right now, I’m not down to be a husband. I was, but now I’m not. I’m just not. And would it be like we are starting from scratch? New goals, new anniversary. We have an anniversary already—November 23rd…or is it the 19th. No no it’s December 1st. It doesn’t matter, we don’t celebrate it anyway. She wants to. I want to, but because we are just friends, we don’t.
With the last one, we spent majority of the day together. At 11:56 p.m., she poured me a glass of champagne.
“Happy us day, Andreni.” That was just who we had become.
I was getting a lot of calls tonight.
“Alice, what’s good?”
Alice makes Lig’s calls. He corresponds by typing mostly with his left hand. Baby bro is special in a spiritual way. Great with dogs. He trains his pitbulls with finger snaps and chest pats. The kennel was his idea. He has ten acres in Belleville, New Jersey. He loves and enjoys every bit of it.
“Good night, Andreni. Your brother said dogs are howling—‘death is near.’”
“Death is near? Like D-E-A-T-H, death?”
Lig’s bond with his dogs were unexplainable. He had a Nostradamus-DMX thing going. He warned us about Hurricane Sandy; he let us know when we were under deep investigation. Here we are tonight. Death is near.
I could picture Alice’s lil pink hands clutching the phone, reading off the tablet.
“He says, ‘I am very serious, Andy.’ Just be cool and aware. Drive safe.”
“Love you both. Thanks.”
I click the phone to call Mali. Voice mail, once. Voice mail, twice. I try to hit Clair. If what Lig foresaw is accurate we gotta be on our toes and we don’t need no one dying tonight. Even though I’m on autopilot, God’s plan. We don’t need no one dying tonight.
“Oh, you’re sleeping. I’m sorry, just looking for Mali. Enjoy your rest.”
I hit that red button before she got started. Clair could talk like she had an insomniac Wendy Williams in her stomach. She could of easily woke up just now and started asking about Cinema, who cared less about her. Then asked when and where I was going to take the kids. Then she would sense I got a lot on my mind and panic. I loved her though. Clair and I got our bond when Mali was away on his first case. I did whatever she requested before and after Penelope was born. In the hospital, I held her hand and wiped the sweat off her face. I made sure to stay on that side of the bed. I didn’t want to be traumatized by a sick image. And here is Mali.
“I’m sure Lig called you. Check me out. The 440 is open. All her belongings is in the car. She got a ‘get the fuck up off me’ in her Prismick.”
A “get the fuck up off me” is a small gun—.380 or .25 something you reach for in a tussle.
“I’ll be over there when I’m ready, Mali.”
Something ain’t right. Where is Kimmy at? Why is she riding hot? I wonder if she felt threatened by Cinema. Death is near on this premature night. Let Andreni tell it. Death is near every night, and I’m still here.