Long, perfectly curled lashes and thick brows sandwiched dark eyes that were cold and calculated. They moved about my vehicle, taking note of anything and everything around me. He was observing, gauging my level of trouble while deciding if he would move forward with the assistance. I’d read him completely. His eyes and posture were like glass at the moment. I could sense his hesitation and lack of enthusiasm. It was quite obvious that he was stepping out on a limb and doing something he usually didn’t. Before he changed his mind, I spoke into the phone.
“Yes. Of course,” I rushed out, breath as shaky as my fingers and loud as my heartbeat.
“Then open the door.”
For the third time, he hung up on me. Slightly offended, I unlocked my door, pushed it open, and stepped out of my car with a few words on my heart that needed to be released. However, his silence and wondering eyes, combing over me like bait, rebirthed the thoughts that I’d pushed away moments prior.
He is not excluded.
“You got something to get off ya chest?” He sniggered, revealing perfect teeth that were lined with gold.
I haven’t told a joke. I hadn’t, so his comic relief was baffling to me. However, it wasn’t lost upon me that the inside joke he found comical offered a glimpse of another profile, exposing a single, dimpled cheek and lips that curled upward. It was a far cry from the downward brows, widened nostrils, and inquisitive eyes that were slimmed to slits.
“No,” I lied.
“A liar. They teach you that shit in school?”
Of course. He’d noticed the cap and gown in the backseat of my car, quickly concluding my status as a student.
“Then, what’s up?” he asked, folding his arms over his chest, occupying more space than his lean frame required. The lack of distance between us eliminated my chances of getting past him. Though I had little reason to at the moment, the observation was still made.
“Do you make it a habit of being rude?” I wondered aloud.
“Do you make it a habit of calling motherfuckers you’n even know, back to back like that?”
Taken aback by his bluntness and the unsettling delivery, I swallowed the lump that formed in my throat while simultaneously swallowing the air that had been coated with his cologne. Immediately, I was under the influence.
“I’m sure your mother wouldn’t approve of you talking to a young woman that’s having a crappy day, who has done absolutely nothing to you, in that tone.”
“She dead. She don’t give a fuck, Mommas. Respectfully.”
“I’m so sorry.”
“Don’t be. You live and you die.”
His view on life was accurate, but it didn’t hurt any less. My mother, too, was deceased, but for some reason, I was reluctant to release that bit of information. Enough pity was shed on me with his presence. I didn’t want to add to the stirring pot. The sadness that flashed across his dark eyes sat right on top of my chest. I knew that pain. It was a deep, hallowing, and unexplainable pain that only people like him and I could feel.
“Respectfully?” My brows attempted to center as my neck stretched as I changed the subject.
“Since you need your blows lightened, yeah. Respectfully.”
Unable to respond, I simply nodded. I wasn’t offended by his cognizance of my gentleness or the need to have blows softened when aimed in my direction. Life, itself, was beating me without relief. I didn’t need a total stranger doing the same.