Lesli settles in


Lesli looked around and sighed at Keith’s overrun living room that was, she realized, now her overrun living room. What wouldn’t fit, Lesli had either left for Gwen or put in storage downstairs at Keith’s. Still, she had a lot of stuff to put away.

“I’m taking a break,” she declared. Getting up from the carpet, she stretched and got a cold can of Heineken from the fridge. “So,” she asked, spotting Linda’s letter, which Keith still hadn’t opened and had no idea when he’d get around to it, “who’s the fan mail from? Nice handwriting. She pretty?”

Here we go, Keith rued and, before he knew it, blurted, “Yeah, Les. As ten sunsets. She’s also baby cousin, will y’?! Probably up in trouble. Otherwise, don’t never hear from the brat. That okay? Damn!”

He stuffed the envelope in his back pocket, gave Lesli an ugly look, and realized marrying this woman was not going to be an easy undertaking. Nonetheless, he was in love with her and, accordingly, going to take bad with the good. He made himself calm down. “Ain’t we just get done talking about this very thing?”

She tried to dissemble: “Oh, come on. I’m just kidding.” He practically stared a  hole in both her eyes. She gave up the pretense and put a palm to her forehead, closing her eyes. “Keith, I’m sorry.”

He went over put his hands around her waist and kissed her forehead. “Baby, I got a feeling we’re gonna have these kinds of conversations for a while, until we get the swing of this thing.”

She opened her eyes, wide and pitiful. “What you mean is until I grow up.”

“That’s not what I said, is it?”

“No, but that’s what you meant.”

“Okay, look.” She dropped her gaze and he lifted her chin so her eyes had to meet his. “Is you ever known me — and, I mean, ever never, girl — to not say just what I mean and mean exactly what I say?”

She shook her head and managed keep her eyes from watering too badly. “No, baby.  Never.”

“Alright, then. I said we and I mean we. If I’d told you before now about her, that she’s even alive, you’d’ve known about Linda. But, that’s my ass-backward way of dealing with problems. With a closed mouth. So, that’s my fault.”

He kissed her hair and gently pulled her close, gazing into empty air. “We both got our whatchacallum. Them weaknesses. Like that pretty boy in that flick Troy. Got shot with an arrow at the end.”

She stepped back a bit. “Brad Pitt?”

“Yeah. Remember. What they call it, a Hercules foot? Somethin’…”

She slapped his chest. “Achilles’ heel, you jerk. An Achilles’ heel.”

“Yeah, well, Hercules, Achilles, whoever. You got your bad weak spot, I got mine. Darlin’, ain’t nobody perfect. Especially either one of us. And the hardest thing in the world to do is fit two folk into one relationship. Don’t take my word for it. Look around and how many people crazy about each other and still can’t stay together.”

“Gee, when you put it like that I feel so encouraged.”

He brushed her hair away from her forehead. “All I’m sayin’, it ain’t easy. But I’m also sayin’ you and me, we can do this. We is gon’ do it.”

“Are, Keith. We are going to do this.”

“Yeah, that too. Cross my heart and hope to eat a dead frog.”

Then, she did leak a tear or two. “I love you.” Lesli then planted a kiss on Keith. And felt him getting excited. She cut that short, lightly shoving him back. “Oh, no, mister,” glancing around the place again. “I have to at least put a dent in some of this mess.”

He grinned and offered to help her unpack. Which, of course, she declined. Good luck helping a woman claim her share of your space. That’s her territory. The best she’d allow him was the heavy lifting. Which, once he thought about it, was jake with him. He mostly sat while she worked.

It was entertaining. Watching Lesli walk back and forth, carrying this, toting that. Watching his two little demons waging war on every sheet of packing paper that got tossed on the floor, petting poor Bruno who sat in his lap, taking in the surroundings, hating Butch and Sundance.

Eventually, Lesli took a break. She sashayed over, plopped down beside him, lounging, nursing a beer. When she grabbed the remote and put the television on, he  stretched out, head in her lap. She played in his hair.

They watched Boomerang and had a good laugh as Eddie Murphy’s sex drive led him through life until the love of a good woman, in the form of Halle Berry, put something serious on him. Then, they put on Hitch with Eva Mendes terribly misjudging poor Will Smith, who valiantly hung until she and Will got to the same place Eddie and Halle had.

Keith suggested putting on Strictly Business. Lesli had a better idea. Turned the set off and took her man into their bedroom.


Next week: an Epilogue brings Black & Single Blues to an end.

Dwight Hobbes welcomes reader responses to P.O. Box 50357, Mpls., 55403. 
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