Her Little White LieBy: Cj Howard
“Come on, Suzette, since when you been a racist?”
“I'm not, I'm just saying. It woulda been nice to have been told.”
“So, you'll be bringing him on Thursday, right?” Alicia said.
“Thursday?” I was confused.
“Yes, the staff Christmas party is at six pm as always. Banqueting suite on the top floor. The only time us back room workers get a chance to walk among you high and mighty front liners at the expense of the management.”
I had forgotten all about the party. Everyone went to the party. Even me. Although, I usually only popped my head around because I made sure I was working that night. But Thursday was two days away and it was my day off. I had no excuse. But, what if my fiancé was working that night?
Before I had time to come up with a story, Miss Poole stopped inches away from us.
“Now ladies, there's a perfectly healthy restaurant back there. And you choose to stand on the street eating food that will not only make you fat but give you a heart attack.” She pursed her lips together.
“Oh, Grace was just telling us she's bringing her fiancé to the party on Thursday.” Alicia grinned.
My mouth dropped open but Miss Poole's face lit up.
“Splendid, Grace. We all can't wait to meet him.” She slipped off then, through the crowd. I turned to the girls but they were already making their way back to the hotel.
I kept on standing there for a further five minutes as people bumped and barged by me on their way to a million and one important places. They caused a blur in front of me, beside me and all around me. I looked up to the sky, if there was ever a moment a UFO could arrive over New York and transport one unsuspecting citizen up to their ship, that should have been it and I should have been that person.
Someone stepped on my toe and someone shouted, “Hey, quit blocking the sidewalk, freak!”
So I limped back to the hotel and aimlessly wandered the back corridors until my lunch break was over, then put on my biggest smile and went back to the desk, hoping an idea would come to me, or a white guy called Red would walk into the hotel to get a room and ask me to marry him.
Mikey wasn't outside the hotel waiting for me, I knew he had taken the day off. He sent me a text to say he was getting a cold and wouldn't meet me after work because he was staying in bed. As soon as my shift finished I rushed down to the subway. The Brooklyn streets were growing dark but were still busy. I stopped off at Dooley's to buy some soup for Mikey. I figured if anyone knew a way to get me out of this, then it would be him.
When I got to his apartment I could hear lots of loud male voices. The television was up high and they were all talking at the same time. Mikey shared his apartment with Frank and Stewie, but it sounded an awful lot like I'd just arrived at one of their all-nighters, where a bunch of their friends piled over and ended up crashing on the one battered sofa they had.
No matter how loudly, I banged on the door I could not make myself be heard. I began shouting Mikey's name and banged some more.
“Hey Gracie.” Frank came out wearing a Giants cap facing the wrong way. “You come to watch the match?”
“No,” I stood on tiptoes to look over his shoulder. He had his arms crossed and was leaning against the open door frame, looking me up and down like I was supper and he had been starving for a week.
“You looking for your homeboy?” His eyes kept devouring me and he still hadn't stepped aside.
“Is he in?” I asked.
“Mm-hmm. But, is there anything a brother can do to help out this fine Nubian princess?”
“The only thing you can do, Brother, is step aside and let me through. How's Barbra, these days? She dumped your ass yet?”
He stepped aside as the rest of the guys laughed at him and threw pillows at his head. They couldn't miss.
Mikey sat in the middle of the sagging sofa with a bottle of beer in his hand and the remains of a packet of chips over his crumpled t-shirt.
“Grace, move aside, grab a seat. The game is about to start.”
“I need to speak to you, Mikey, do you mind?”
“Grace can't it wait till half time?”
I moved away from the television but by only a few steps and waited with my arms crossed.
Mikey blushed, put down the bottle of beer and got up slowly.
“Owned!” they shouted and threw broken potato chips at him.
“Come into my room, Grace.”
He led me into the disheveled pit he called a room. The bed was unmade, there was a pile of clothes about three inches high that covered the floor so the rug underneath couldn't be seen at all. There was an odd smell of petrol wafting up from somewhere which meant the whole block could have gone up in flames at any moment but I was too afraid to ask what it was. The side table by the bed had three open books on it, a magazine, two empty glasses and a torch. The table lamp was turned over on the floor and there was something green and lively in one of the glasses. The curtains were still closed.