Negotiating Compromises

Negotiating Compromises
by April C. Hayes, Copyright 2007 Bloggers Delight Vol 1

Falling like a torrential downpour, a barrage of thoughts moved through his head like a full-on assault. Images, memories, and questions demanding answers corrupted the morning’s meditation. Silent, Omar inhaled deeply, eyes shut, and just listened. To the beating in his heart, he listened. To the song of the Norfolk-Southern screaming wildly in the distance, he listened. Just outside, road workers serenaded the morning with their street opera; a cacophonous racket played annoyingly for those still in bed past 7am. Still, he listened. To the sound of the marble coolness beneath his
feet, he listened. He listened to the sounds of his past and the angles
of his future.

This moment, this was his church, his temple where daily, silent
prayer was held, and he nearly reached the place of absolutes when
the volatile question pervaded: what do you see? She had smacked
right into the door frame as she exited, elegantly, and he laughed to
himself as he rushed to catch up to her. Damn if everything about her
wasn’t elegant -- her abrupt stance when their interview was over;
the way she left the table, evaporating right out of her seat,
commanding silk and suede to obey the laws of place. There was
the way she turned sharply on tan stilettos, pausing momentarily
for her keys, smiling coyly at him over her shoulder, only to cat-walk
right out of the restaurant and into a door frame. She played it off
beautifully, he thought, taking a soft step back, touching a hand to
her chest to laugh at herself obviously. She let it be known she
wasn’t threatened, nor defeated by a whimsical error, and then she
laughed comically upon exiting.

His morning ritual was poisoned by everything he remembered
about her; a soft scar that folded into the corner of her lip, so thin,
razor-like, but its presence adorned her with a sincere, childlike
quality. Soft, natural curls framed her face like Venetian latticework
over laughing eyes. She reminded him of living artwork, a complex
canvas in motion; a living sculpture where no wall was good enough.

She took the digital recorder off the table quickly and thanked
him. Taken, he leaned toward her, grinned and said, “Ok, my turn.
I have a question for you -- just one.” Confidently he knew his line
would be bitten. Years of cerebral play, in and out of diminutive
encounters, had taught him much. After all, she was a reporter,
wasn’t she? What was it she said? Oh yeah, a humble writer with
an in depth in-your-business-complex. Besides, he mused, more
than anything, she was a woman. She was a black woman, a
bonafide sista, which innately meant a mystical detective. No
doubt, she would eagerly want to know what he wanted to
know about her.

“I suppose,” she replied slowly, to his surprise, carefully smoothing
the folds of her skirt as she began to evaporate into the air around
him, “I am to be captivated at the notion that you’ve got some
interest in me.” She placed her hands on the table and leaned into
him. “And, I suppose,” she continued, “this feigned attempt at said
mounting interest is supposed to have me excited with possibilities.”
Omar sat back smoothly, defenseless, to let her freely cut into him.
“Mr. Roberts, other than doing my job, this has become...well, in a
word…‘trite’, and I won’t bore you with the details except to say,”
she dropped her voice to a whisper, “I’m not interested.” And with
that she smiled coolly, dissolving elegantly into a one-woman play:
up, stop, pause, keys, last look-over-the-shoulder-baby smile, turn,
walk that walk, reigning -- right into the damn door frame. Though
it tickled him, even satisfied him to a point, he couldn’t deny that
even out-of-sight, his atmosphere was consumed with her. Well
done, he thought. She more than heightened his interest, she had
clobbered his sensibilities. She was a killer, he mused, a true,
erotically-witted, dyed-in-the-wool, natural born killer. Nothing
better. He went after her craving a new challenge. She was
formidable, a fortress to be penetrated, but chic cuisine, not eaten,
but savored. A drink never shaken but gently stirred. She was a
new elixir.

Posing for an invisible audience, Omar praised the reflection of
his looks: espresso-dipped torso blanketed by a sea of flat, wavy
black hair that draped like a silk sheath. He roughly massaged thick
fingers into the short, rib-like squares in full salute; all six, prized
and daily earned; pulling them in tightly while he stared at himself,
picking apart certain elements. He imagined her all over again.

He caught up to her waiting at the valet. Moving in stride, he
approached her casually. “In war, Ms. Lambert,” he said,” don’t you
think it rude not to at least declare impending doom before firing?
I mean, even in the game of golf they at least yell ‘FORE’.”

“I suppose you’re right, Mr. Roberts,” she quipped, smiling
nevertheless, “but are we at war?” She asked him this as though
she were perched on the precipice of danger ready to leap when
necessary. Slyly, the razor-thin scar betrayed that she was feeling
him; its softly cragged cut twisted into a cunning smile. She liked
him -- he knew it. They bantered about long after her car came, long
after his arrived. Two black coffees and dessert -- he insisted -- led
to four drinks, jazz and a delectable diatribe at the Carlyle. She was
from the Midwest, the Twin Cities, though in her mind there was
very little ‘twin’ about them. He had been to Chicago; had family
there. Yeah, she had been to Chicago--often--and regaled him with
veritable, impromptu excursions of: cutting out in a stolen Caddy for
a weekend with her homegirls ‘cause her cousin in Forest Park told
her about some party on the Southside, or the time they got caught
stealing shit out of Marshall Field’s department store and went to
jail. Cook County jail! He laughed genuinely when she admitted she
“woulda fucked devil cum outta somebody” just to get out, if but
one day earlier. They were out one day shy of a week.

Outside of Chicago, he admitted thinking that no other black
people existed -- just White Plains, cows and some old-assed
Indians. “Native Americans,” she corrected him, sweeping his slight
ignorance under the rug before telling him she despised pimps. “It’s
all a game of psychology,” he gently argued before leading her to the
dance floor. They argued in between sets, her openness jarring,
stimulating. Closing time left them hungry, more for the company
than food and at 4.a.m. they laughed into their breakfast at Waffle
House. She played too tired to argue when he insisted on following
her home and they both knew it was game. So ingrained into the
fabric of their beings was it, that they couldn’t help themselves.
She wasn’t tired at all. She was electric, imagining herself a killer.

Omar gazed into himself while bending over the sink ever so slightly,
pressing his palms into the marbled top, and then, with a hard turn
of the knobs, demanded water to splash his face, washing her down
his skin. Behind him, the sound of bath water getting away distracted
him and he quickly moved to shut it off. Disrobed, naked, open,
Omar sought solitude sinking heavily into hot water – shit, hot! Yet
it felt good, and with the stinging subsiding, his body adjusting to
the heat, his thoughts ran amok; and -- she closed her eyes, smiling
softly, smiling coolly, letting the wet from her tongue fall aimlessly
onto the head, bowed and kissed the baldness, then drank him in
deeply. Omar, struggling with a losing battle, gave up; the moment
was caramel, hard, soft, sweet and sweat; a beautiful carnival ride;
up he went, down she came, then round they went, spinning wildly,
spinning out-of-control…