Quarterly Literary Review Singapore
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Vol. 2 No. 2 Jan 2003

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By Bonnie James Glover

He Made Promises...

After our first encounter he was thoughtful. “If you ever have a problem with anything I do, I want you to feel comfortable enough to speak. Don’t worry about hurting me, I just want to satisfy you.”

Big brown eyes melted into mine and I believed him, trusted him and even changed my life for him. He continued.

“The cornerstone in any relationship is communication. If you and I can continue to talk, all will be well.”

He spoke proper English with a slight accent. When I inquired about this, he smiled, and began to regale me with stories of his childhood. Light, no substance stories, although his movements portrayed an innate sensuality that I believed was borne of numerous indiscretions, numerous entanglements.

Not a large man, his color was that of a cup of weak tea, made that much weaker by the addition of a generous portion of cream. My mother, an old connoisseur of light –skinned Black men might refer to him as “slightly dipped,” her favorite flavor. Not an ounce of extra flesh graced his body. Lips full and sensual, imagined at the base of my neck, the hollow of my throat. Both face and form modeled perfection. He moved with care and precision while I allowed his hands to soothe my worldly demons. His touch was light, caressing. Infinitely attractive I thought as our eyes met for one of those long, lingering moments described in romance novels.

Our session ended with me, tentative and he, self-assured. I wondered if our relationship might be too much for me. But I agreed to see him again despite my reservations. He grabbed my hand and squeezed it and hugged me, for a moment pressing his whole body against mine. I walked away in a whirl of sexual tension.

He Didn’t Keep...

We had been seeing each other regularly for six months when he started to relax and show me the real Paulo. He was late. Repeatedly.

“Oh, my dear, I am sorry. There was a traffic jam and I could not call. My cell phone died.”

He made exaggerated gestures, grand and apologetic but he would not return my glance. I was at a loss.

“Paulo, I’ve been waiting for nearly an hour.” I found myself whining.

“Well, what would you have Paulo do – walk here? I mean really, I did apologize. I am sorry. But I am late, it happens.”

I gave him a long measuring glance. He knew I knew he lived only ten minutes away.

He didn’t smile and he didn’t converse with me as usual. We just got down to business. Every few minutes he would mutter something to himself as though a complaint at my insensitivity but I was too engrossed to reply. In the end I was sated. He seemed in a better mood when I complimented his style, the rhythm he used between the two of us. He bowed his head, still hurt that I dared complain of lateness.

I called and canceled my next visit. Residual pique. He didn’t ask me why. In fact he seemed indifferent and hurried. He did take the time to question when he would see me again. His used his accent and a soft, hoarse whisper that thrilled in my ear. I couldn’t help myself.

“Next week?”

“You name the day and time my sweet.”

I dressed with care for our next appointment. Perfumed lightly, wearing a new dress, a floral print, soft and delicate, hanging slightly off my shoulders, showing a little cleavage. When I walked through the door, I saw an appreciative gleam in his eyes and acknowledged, with an air kiss, the sotto voce “beautiful” in my left ear, which made the hackles rise on my neck and moistened the place between my thighs.

But our meeting ended in disaster. The telephone kept ringing at the wrong moments, interrupting the flow and energy between us. And he kept answering it personally, not letting the machine do its job. All the while using my tone, using my voice.

For once his fingers did nothing to please me. And he was clumsy, inattentive. Angry and unrelieved, when he asked me when he would see me again, I made an excuse and told him I would call. Refusing to meet his eyes, I left hurriedly, a scarf draped loosely around my head and dark sunglasses pulled from the depths of my purse for just such occasions.

So I Started Looking...

There must be someone else who can make me feel like Paulo does when he is at his best, I thought. He can’t be the only one.

I clutched my pillow as angry tears rolled down my cheeks, my new outfit discarded like a pile of rags in one corner of the bed. I couldn’t believe how I had been taken in, how he had lied to gain my trust. Late and unresponsive. Just like all the rest.

I thought briefly about experimenting with women. I had in the past. I found them bright and witty. Even more so than Paulo. We shared a sisterhood. And I won’t lie, I enjoyed women, the bonding, the laughter over shared predicaments and menstrual cycles. I have no difficulty in admitting the attraction or the prior relationships. But I love men so much more. There is something about having a man, the rougher caresses, the seductive glances, the accidental and intended gropes. Thinking of past pleasures made up my mind. I decided to replace Paulo.

I blew my nose and wiped my eyes. And then I called my best friend Jill and told her all about Paulo. She laughed.

“Honey, men are a dime a dozen. What kind you want?”

“I’m not sure about jumping into another situation like Paulo, not right off the bat. I need time to get over this... I just can’t believe... I just thought we’d be together for a long time.”

“Girl please. You need to stop that shit. C’mon, we’re going to make some rounds. In fact, I think I know somebody who’ll make you forget about that little frenchie.”

“He’s not French. He’s from...”

“Wherever. Girl, you need to get with the program and get you a nice piece of dark chocolate and stop trippin’.”

Jill always made me laugh. But she was right. The point was to be satisfied. Not left wanting.

“Now put some clothes on and meet me on Central behind Jewel’s and I’ma hook you up. Just let old Jill do her thang.”

And Found a New Man...

I didn’t put on the same outfit, bad luck. But I did dress up and put on the hat with the wide brim and again, my sunglasses. Kind of ridiculous but I didn’t want Paulo to recognize me if we happened to cross paths. He would know why I was on Central Avenue. Looking.

When Jill arrived, I was struck by her self-composure and natural flair. She was not beautiful, not long-legged or even remotely graceful but her whole persona exuded sexuality. She had wide hips, a big butt and skin the color of a newly minted penny. Her breasts were large and ripe and she had no difficulty in flaunting them.

“Your problem is you been goin’ to the other side too much. You need to get back to your roots girl. You need a Black man. You ever had a Black man?”

“No, not really. You know that I’ve been with women before. I’ve seen a few Black women.”

Jill didn’t act fazed although I knew she was strictly into men.

“Look, I’ma introduce you to mine. See if you like him. Don’t worry girl, I don’t mind sharing.”

I wondered if Jill and I would have the same tastes. But I promised myself that I was going to stop thinking about Paulo. I was determined to forget his caresses and gentleness. And if Jill had a new man for me, then I was ready to try him.

I followed her down the block and into a discreetly lit salon. We sat in the reception area until a rather large Black man noticed us. He was with someone else. He bent to her ear, whispered, and headed towards us. The woman did not seem perturbed that he was leaving. In fact she smiled a welcome in our direction.

When he approached Jill and me, he made eye contact with the both of us and took Jill’s hand and kissed it.

“Charles – I’d like you to meet my friend, Cynthia. She needs a new man in her life.” Jill said this with a throaty laugh but all of us knew the intent behind this visit. An audition.

Charles took my hand and held it briefly but not before I felt the power in them, the strength. This was not Paulo of the thin fingers. This was Charles, strong and masterful.

I studied him. Not much taller than I, broad and heavily muscled across the chest, his eyes were a deeper brown than Paulo’s and of course, he was Black, a rich, creamy mocha chocolate Black. Not the namby-pamby, slightly dipped, color that my mother’s generation favored. Unblemished skin and a wide, manly nose completed Charles. There was no mistaking his heritage, no foreign lilt in his voice.

“A pleasure to meet you Cynthia. Do you have some time to spend with me today?

“We can hang out. I want you to give Cynthia your undivided attention.”

“Cynthia, you will have my undivided attention – as soon as I finish with Annie. I’ll send someone over with some coffee or tea in a moment. Just have a seat and relax.”

His voice was deep, soothing. I could imagine its timbre in my left ear, the sensitive one.

We sat down.

“Now what did I tell ya? Old Jill can hook a sister up.”

“Well, I haven’t seen his work yet.”

“Hmmm. It ain’t his work you gotta see. It’s them hands of his you gotta feel. Just you wait.”

Who Satisfied Me...

When Charles finished with Annie and swept the floor and dusted the chair, he gestured for me. I put down my cup of tea and headed towards him with some trepidation. It always takes me some time to get used to a new man.

He shook a flawlessly clean cape and swirled it around my shoulders. He took off my hat and began to examine my hair, caressing the scalp, kneading my neck gently with his thumbs. I almost moaned. His fingers, blunt and strong were the mark of a true professional stylist. I could tell I was going to be thoroughly sated as he pressed his wide shouldered body closer to me in order to learn the secrets of my hair.

I sighed deeply. Oh, he was so different than Paulo. So very different.

QLRS Vol. 2 No. 2 Jan 2003


About Bonnie James Glover
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Other Short Stories In This Issue

A choice of two salads
By Heng Siok Tian.

The Spy Who Also Did Laundry
By Hong Wee.


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