January 20, 2013
I got there 15 minutes early and he was already there. He’d taken the back corner booth with a clear view of the parking lot so he could see everyone who came and went. He was making sure I hadn’t been followed. “Motherfucker pulled a Goodfellas on me” I thought as I entered the falafel joint. I took this as a sort of “bad omen” if you will but didn’t let on that anything was “off” as they say. I sat down across from him and without saying a word he gestured that I join him on his side of the booth. Not good, not good. Again, I said nothing, just grinned sheepishly and scooted down the vinyl being careful not to make that sound, swung round tableside and with a newlyweds grace ended up right next to him.
“One fluid motion” he muttered as the waitress put what looked like an Americano down on the table. “You’ve… still got it” he snapped. “Yeah, haven’t had the opportunity to show off that skill in a little bit but…” I laughed and finally tried to earn his eye contact but, and there’s always a but, I saw he was rocking a pair of rather dark and stormy Oakley sunglasses and was “nipping” at an Orange Julius of all things. I couldn’t take it anymore. Things had reached a breaking point of sorts and the only thing that I was capable of stammering was “Where the hell did you get that!?” all the while thinking that the neighborhood must be on the up and up if Mr. Julius had decided to take residence.
He ignored the question and instead removed a cigarette from somewhere deep inside his bountiful dreadlocks. This really burned me up. I was at the end of some short weird “rope” as the kids say and I decided it was high time to order some falafel, with everything, hummus, white sauce, and easy on the red of course. When it finally arrived I rudely waved the blonde waitress away and slumped noticeably in “our” seat. I had lost my appetite for middle eastern and could only long for the beautiful, sweaty Julie in my peripheral. As I was about to ask again where a man could acquire one for himself my friend slid closer to me and simply nodded “yes.” Surprised as I was about this rare gesture I didn’t question it, I simply tore off the top and swigged, mildly disappointed that it turned out to be a Strawberry Julius. I was temporarily content but after the initial high wore off I found myself just sitting there again, alone in a busy place, eyeing my falafel with contempt.
We both sat quiet for about 2 minutes when he finally broke the silence. “Not hungry?”
“Guess not. Honestly… this pita reminds me of someone, someone I miss, someone I miss a lot.”
“I know life hurts… I know.” He removed his Oakleys and turned to face me. I could tell he’d been crying. “That’s what I wanted to speak to you about.” I was at a loss for words for the first time since my mother insisted I wear spandex shorts to the beach.
“I don’t know how to say this to you but I’m just gonna, say it… she’s gone.”
“Dead?” I asked.
“No! She’s gone, she moved away, no forwarding address, nothing. Heard something, under a strange sky, that she fell in with a vicious day trader, or a stand up comedian… but anyways point is she’s gone.” I sat stoic in the face of such devastating news while inside I went to pieces. Par for that horrible course.
She was my dance partner for 5 months but it was one of those pairings that seem like you’ve been practicing for years. Jazz, hip-hop, flamenco…
It seemed there was nothing we couldn’t do and for a while it looked like we were shoe ins for the South Bronx “Couples Only” Semi Finals. There were mumblings among dancings normal that we were a couple to “kinda keep an eye on” and I once heard rumors that Marc Anthony himself had told his godson (who barbacks at the bar down the street) “I don’t know what the fuck they’re doing but for some reason I like it” while observing us tear it up in a corner all by ourselves. One of the finest compliments I’ve yet to receive from a non-dancer.
“But no use reminiscing. It’s done” my friend bluntly reminded me and I worried for a second that my mouth was going to act independently and start butchering this cold son of a bitch with insults and character assassinations but for some quiet reason I stayed introspective and pondered the statement for what seemed like hours until he broke the silence once more.
“Lets get outta here and watch “What About Bob.”
It was a great idea, I’ve gotta give the man his propers on that. As we got up to leave I threw down my falafel with an extreme force straight into the crack where the seat and backrest of the booth meet, sending red cabbage, onions and hummus deep into the recess and insuring an instant ban from the establishment. “That way I can never go back” I yelped as we were chased down the street. “Story of yr life” he screamed as he juked left, dreads flailing.
Later that night while walking home I found myself craving, funnily enough, Middle Eastern food. I laughed and banished the thought. I know that Orange Julius stand is still out there somewhere.
© 2018 cover my ears