by Faye Kristine
The living room lights were on. Tracy was still up. Since she’d been pregnant, she usually fell asleep with baby JJ. I gave my boys a sign it was cool, as they rolled out from the front of my building slowly like crazy Dante was contact high. He’d stopped smoking weed a month ago for his new girlfriend, so he always drove. Wild shit. It doesn’t make sense to quit something for a broad, especially the ones in LA. They always looked to change a brother. Not me.
“Hey Babe,” I said. Tracy was crying on couch. My high was good and I wanted to keep it that way.
“I talked with your dad tonight. He told me,” she said sobbing. Fuck, she knew. I didn’t want to hurt her. Damn my dad for telling her. He had no right to get in our business and snitch. He could’ve let me handle it and given me a chance to tell Tracy. I couldn’t leave my son and she was a good woman.
“How can you do this to your family?” she asked.
“I do this? Tracy, we haven’t even been sleeping in the same bed for months. You said it yourself, we’ve grown apart and we don’t know how to bring it back together,” I replied.
“I thought we would work it out. Every couple goes through crap. You are an asshole. You’re going to New York to see another women when I am eight months pregnant! What the fuck Josh?!” she yelled.
“Quiet, JJ is sleeping. He doesn’t need to be a part of this,” I replied hoping that would calm her.
“He is a part of this! He is our son. You have betrayed both of us,” she cried. Tracy was a strong woman. She acted like she never needed help, but was so demanding when she stressed out. I never knew what she needed until she got mad. She griped about how I smoked too much weed, which made me smoke more weed. What was I supposed to do with the complaining and nagging?
“I have not betrayed either of you. You two will always be my family. You’re not in love with me anymore Tracy. Why hang on when we both want to move on?” I asked.
“We have a family. That is worth fighting for you fucking asshole!” she cried.
“Calm down Tracy. Stop calling me names. I am fighting for my family, but how can I do it here with you breathing down my neck all the time?” I replied. I couldn’t focus with her stressed about money and bills.
“You don’t care about us. You don’t go out there and do what it takes to help support this family,” she said.
“Don’t start,” I replied. She was crazy to think I was going back to slaving at a desk job. Building my business took time.
“How long have you been talking to her?” she asked.
“Tracy you go running around all the time. I don’t know what you are doing, but I know it’s not me. You know what you’ve been doing,” I shot back. How the hell she got pregnant with ‘my’ child is a mystery. It isn’t mine.
“I have never cheated on you in six years. Stop turning this on me. Take responsibility for yourself. Unlike you, I work all day and take care of our son. So stop with that shit. All you do is smoke weed with your ‘boys’ and say you are working on a ‘business’. You are the one going to fucking New York to be with some bitch. So, how long have you been talking to her?” she asked.
“A couple months,” I replied.
“Have you gone to see her? Is that why you’ve been taking all these business trainings. That’s bullshit too?” she asked.
“Yes, I’ve seen Sheila a couple times,” I replied. Damn I said her name.
“Get out of my house now,” she said.
“You’re house? I’m not leaving JJ,” I said.
“You should’ve thought about that before you got with Sheila. I’ve been paying for your ass way too long. Just get out,” she said as she turned away from me and started bawling.
“Girl you better watch how you speak to me. I’m not disrespecting you,” I said, “It doesn’t have to be this way. You know I love you and JJ. I’m sorry,” I said.
“You’re right Josh, it didn’t have to be this way. You chose to cheat. Get out of my house,” she said.
There was nothing more to say. I just needed a place to crash until I could figure it all out. Our neighbor Leanne asked us to dog sit Phoebe all the time insisting on returning the favor. I needed it. I didn’t want to tell her my business. She liked Tracy a lot, even though we were cool. Her TV was on every night I came in late. I could hear QVC or some shopping show. Tonight wasn’t any different. I knocked loudly.
“Leanne, it’s Josh,” I said through the seam in the door.
“Coming,” she said. She unlocked her deadbolt and chain.
“Hey Josh, everything okay? How’s Tracy?” she asked.
“She’s okay. We got into a fight. Can I crash here tonight to let her cool down?” I asked.
“Of course, come in,” she replied. I looked straight at the sofa, not making eye contact with her.
“I’ll get you a blanket and pillow from the closet. Do you need any water?” she asked.
“I’m fine thanks,” I said. Phoebe stood on my shoe and wagged her tail. She waited for me to pick her up. I was tired. It was over with Tracy. I had fucked up. I didn’t take care of my family right. I tried yet it was never enough. She didn’t understand how hard it was to be a black man making his way for his family.
My girl Sheila understood. She told me she loved me the first month we started talking and asked me to move in. She had a great job with some bank and her own place. I couldn’t leave JJ though. Maybe it was time, there was nothing here. I could get on my feet in New York and take care of my family right. I could love Sheila.
“Here you go Josh,” Leanne said, setting down the blankets. “Is your hand okay?” she asked. She must’ve noticed the open cut on my ring finger.
“I’m fine. A glass broke earlier,” I replied.
“You should take care of it or you’ll have a scar,” she said as she turned off the TV and left me in the dark.