Recent addition of story soundtrack. This is where I take a song and write a story about what’s really going on.
Song: “Lie to Me” by Ne-Yo
I pretend I don’t hear Anthony and concentrate on chewing my smothered pork chops. I look forward to my monthly lunches with my brother and Mabel’s Soul Food Shack does not disappoint. The place is a shack, old and outdated with hard plastic seats, rickety tables with mismatched chairs and any cracks repaired with duct tape. But the eleven tables are packed as usual.
I wipe sweat from my brow and loosen my tie. The lone ceiling fan is losing the battle between the heat from the kitchen and the bodies packed into a small space. I slice another piece of pork chop and savor the tender meat. Then I attack the macaroni and cheese. Mabel’s macaroni is a blend of three cheeses swimming in butter. I scoop up a forkful and chance a glance at my brother.
“You know, Robin is cheating on you, right?” he repeats. Tony continues adding sugar to his sweet tea as if he wasn’t ruining my life.
I put the fork down. The butter beans will have to wait. “What are you talking about?”
Tony finishes stirring his drink. “You know, bro .” He gulps half of the tea before he comes up for air.
“Tell me what I know.”
Tony pours more tea into his glass from the pitcher he insisted the waitress leave on our table. He starts the sugar ritual again.
I know he’ll tell me in his own time. I’ve accepted that annoying quirk about him. Like I accepted the burden of being the little brother of Anthony Harris. Growing up, I thought my big brother was the coolest dude around. Popular athlete, star tennis player in high school and college. Me. I’m the opposite. Excelled at math, failed at being cool. Anthony always looked out for me, though. The problem is he is still doing it.
I take the reprieve and finish off my meal. No need to waste homemade food. When I’ve cleaned the bone I can’t take it anymore. “Are you going to tell me what’s up or not?”
Tony puts the empty glass on the table and burps. He leans back in the booth. “Here’s the deal. You know how Monica’s been bugging me about taking her to see the new Tyler Perry flick?”
Now I’m confused. “What? I mean, yeah, everybody knows your wife loves Tyler.”
“She drives me crazy with that.” Tony shakes his head. “Anytime the man releases a new movie or premiers a new show I’m supposed to care. Perry got something new out every week. It’s exhausting.”
“What does that have to do with Robin?”
“I’m getting to it. So, I take my wife to see the flick. It was decent. At least the part I saw. I dozed off.”
“Man, get to it.”
Tony signals the waitress for more tea. The pitcher is empty. He waits until she refills it before he continues.
“I ask Monica if she wants to get something to eat. I suggest Miyabi’s, you know the new hibachi restaurant next to the theater.”
He is killing me with this detailed story, but I nod so he will continue .
“We get taken to a table where there are already like three other couples. We order and the guy is putting on a real good show.”
“Man, if you don’t get to the point…”
Tony holds up a hand. “Okay, okay. So, Monica gets up to go to the restroom and I turn to watch her walk away. My baby still looks good.”
I manage a smile. My brother has a great woman and a happy marriage. Same thing I’m hoping for.
“Anyway, who do I see at the table behind us but your girl, Robin.”
I let out a breath I didn’t realize I was holding. “That’s it. I knew she was going out with the ladies from the shop.”
Tony sits up straight. “She wasn’t with no ladies. She was with a dude. It looked like they were on a date.”
I shake my head and my stomach churns. My Robin on a date? No way.
Last night Robin came in around midnight. Nothing unusual. Nights with the girls tend to run long. She was quiet when she tiptoed into the room. She went straight into the bathroom and showered. When she crawled into bed, she turned her back to me and curled into her usual position. I spooned my body around her and kissed her neck. I inhaled the scent of her mango and peach body wash.
“You still awake?” she whispered.
“Waiting on my baby.” I ground my pelvis into her ample behind.
She yawned and patted my arm. “I’m tired, Dre. I’ll make it up to you tomorrow.”
“Come on, baby.” I pressed upon her my full length of need. “It’s been a week.”
“I know. It’s been really busy at the shop.”
And you’ve been going out every night, I don’t add. I still want to get some. “Just a quickie. I need you.” I hated when she made me beg.
I moved against her, but she was asleep.
The crash of dishes hitting the floor bring me back to the present. The chatter in the diner dips for a second and then resumes.
“Are you listening to me?” Tony asks.
“You are not making any sense. Robin went out with friends. I don’t know what you thought you saw.” I wipe my hands on a paper napkin and toss it on top of my plate.
“That’s your problem. You don’t want to face the truth about things. You need to let go of the little fantasy you walk around in.”
“I’ve got to get back to the office.” I reach for my wallet, but Tony stops me.
“It’s my turn to pay. You got it last time.”
I calculate the bill in my head. “Make sure you leave at least ten percentage for the tip. ” I slide to the edge of the booth.
“Hold up, Dre. Why you leaving like this? I’m looking out for family , you know. I can’t have my brother getting played.”
I take a deep breath and stand. “I know, man. And I appreciate it. But me and Robin are good.”
Tony signals the waitress for the check. “You’re a good dude. All romantic and shit. Some women will take advantage. She already got you investing in her business.”
“I was wondering how long it would take you to go there.” I’m surprised he waited this long to work it into the conversation.
“I’m just saying. Remember what happened with Lisa?”
How could I forget? You always remember the first woman who breaks your heart.
“Robin is nothing like Lisa.” I made sure of it when I had her investigated. But Tony doesn’t need to know about that.
Anthony throws up his hands. “Alright, alright. Fine. But I know what I saw.”
“And I know Robin. You’re wrong.”
I turn and stomp out of the place. I yank open the car door and collapse into the leather seats. I have to compose myself. I do the breathing exercises the therapist recommended. When I can unclench my fists, I know it’s safe to drive.
Leave it to Tony to ruin lunch at Mabel’s. I don’t care what he thought he saw. Robin went out with friends last night. One of them brought a date. Yeah, that’s what happened. I’m sure of it.
A patrol car appears in my rearview mirror and I check the speedometer. The last thing I need is another encounter with the police. I smile when the car passes me at the next intersection.
I activate the hands free mode and call into the office. I tell my assistant I’m taking the rest of the day. My destination was established as soon as I left the diner.
Maybe it’s time I spice things up in my relationship. Be more spontaneous. I pull into a parking space behind Robin’s shop. I exit the vehicle and imagine the surprise on Robin’s face when her man comes to take her to lunch.
Lisa didn’t like surprises. But Robin is nothing like Lisa. Robin knows how to lie to me.