A Promise In The Universe's Tears

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Living The Dream

For the next few months he saved for a plane ticket. With a pair of Levi’s, mint condition Air Max’s a clean shave and a small washed and conditioned Afro with Shea butter rubbed in and a tweed Irish cap he was ready.

On a Thursday when he was supposed to be at his job as a Porter In a Hospital Cafeteria he was at her favorite club sitting at the bar next to her Bi Sexual sister Vanessa that was fiercely envious of her. Punta Cana Andrea loved her sister, but her attraction to her friend that clearly wanted nothing to do with Vanessa made her an impossible sale for her to be let into the inner circle. None of Punta Cana Andrea’s friend’s had any opinion, or judgment about Vanessa’s sexuality.

They had all known each other since childhood and grew up on the same block. It was the constant unwarranted attempts and even aggressive cornering of Punta Cana’s Andrea’s friend that kept Vanessa spectating and not just having a good time. Vanessa was obsessed and borderline possessive with Punta Cana Andrea’s friend and she made it no secret.

Sam sat quietly watching her watching Punta Cana Andrea and her friends. Sam goes into character. Sam points to his gLois for another Seltzer water and he points to Vanessa’s. She looks at him out of the corner of her eye. "Not interested." Vanessa said mildly while she looks straight ahead. "Not interested in the free drink…I just want to talk I’m not trying to push up on you…You know how you look and everything…But I know…" Sam said inconclusively.

Vanessa pauses for a second and she drops her head a little bit. She turns around in her seat and gets close to Sam while she rests her forearms on the bar. She looks him squarely in the eyes while she shrewdly searches them "And what is it that you think you know? You don’t know me and anything you have to say I’ve heard it before and if you push this...after I tell you no this last time, whoever you are here with might not be able to find you…and what I do know is that you are not Dominican and you’re trying to find some easy woman that will deal with you’re very broke self…now what do you know?" Vanessa asked defiantly yet smoothly.

"I know that you want that girl out there you’ve been staring at even before I got here. I know that you’re gay, or bi sexual and that’s why I’m not trying to push up on you. Yes I’m in a Dominican club, but technically we share the same ancestry even though your culture does not predominately accept African Americans. I know that I am from Indiana and that I have been saving money for a year to dance with Andrea Vega and that she is here.

What I do not know is where I am going to sleep tonight, but I do know that just dancing with her one time will have made this all worth it. Yeah I know I am broke and buying you that drink and this seltzer water puts a serious hurting on my cab fare back to the bus station in the morning. It's all part of the ride though. Every color every experience. Every risk and every hardship." Sam said.

Vanessa’s disposition softens and she feels connected to him. She stands up and she looks back out on the dance floor at her sister. "That’s crazy. Don’t lie to me. Did you know she was going to be here? Have you been stalking her all the way from Indiana?! You honestly came all the way up here just to dance with her and what did you think…that you would dance so good that she would take you home with her?!" Vanessa exclaimed. Veronica is upset that he has done something so romantic that is cuts her to the core.

Vanessa hates that everything seems to come to Andrea. Sam is a little embarrassed because Vanessa is drawing attention to them. "Yes. Yes and no. I don’t expect anything from her." Sam said mildly. Vanessa begins to tear up as she purses her lips with her hand and she takes Sam by the hand before she thinks he can see. Sam smiles confidently and with satisfaction.

Vanessa leads him out onto the dance floor. Sam meticulously watches the sway in Vanessa's hips and he undresses her round buttocks with his eyes. She glances back disapprovingly and she sighs. Despite her hot blooded nature she over looks what he is doing. In Vanessa's mind nothing is going to stop her from getting him onto this dance floor. To Vanessa something inside needs to be set free and not matter if Sam had two left feet she is determined that she is going to get it out of her here and now.

Vanessa elegantly yet assertively makes her way through the crowd and Sam can tell that she comes to this place quite often. They arrive where Vanessa wants them to be on the dance floor. Sam stands there stiff while Vanessa searches his eyes thoroughly. Sam eyes begin to stray away to Punta Cana Andrea who is looking intently at what her problematic sister is doing.

"Don’t look at her stupid! I know there is more to you then what you say…my sister needs a little hurt, but if you hurt her to much I will kill you! I can see it in your eyes that you are obsessed with her…I’m going through it myself…Now you are going to share that obsession with me and tell it in our dance. You’d better kill it…that’s real. Don’t worry I’ll lead…" Vanessa said inconclusively. "You can just look into my eye and see what I am thinking...wow how underwhelmingly gifted and paper thin of you." Sam said. The next song comes on and Vanessa takes the lead. Sam stumbles around while she irritably looks at him. They go on like this for a few more moments and just when Vanessa is about to walk away Sam gently jerks her wrist.

She is caught off guard and before she knows it their bodies are pressed tightly against one another. "You do remember that I play for the other team right?" Vanessa asked. "Maybe I forgot...just a little. Can you blame me though?" Sam said and he takes the lead. Vanessa hides her smile. With a style dance that is the Merengue mixed with Hip Hop dancing, but not sacrificing the classical form of the Merengue Sam astonishes Vanessa.

Vanessa starts out stumbling around in their dance. He never second guesses his lead of her and they begin to move together as if they have been practicing together for quite some time. Andrea watches with just as much astonishment. The floor is given to them and the inner crowd of people watches as Vanessa is the one who stumbles amidst her and Sam’s dance. Sam shares his obsession with Vanessa in the story that their dance tells. Punta Cana Andrea recognizes Sam and she tightens up.

Sam knows Vanessa’s body and he traces it with the story that she asked him for. He interrupts passionate moments and abruptly detaches himself and is cold in his story. Punta Cana Andrea is jealous. Vanessa cries out. No man or woman had ever reached inside of her flaws and touched her like this.

Sadness tragedy, wandering, failure, loneliness, physical abuse, incarceration, darkness, pain, hypocrisy, lies, hunger, poetic sadness, ego, a little boy lost, horrific choices, a thousand broken violins in a desert and finally they arrive at the threshold of a broken promise that grows with a blinding light that quickly becomes a glare. Punta Cana Andrea is jealous and wants to march out onto the dance floor and check him. To Punta Cana Andrea Sam just had sex with her sister on the dance floor.

Sam separates himself from Vanessa and both of them drenched in sweat Vanessa knows him beyond the lies and all the masks. They are connected. Sam does not know what happened. He had control. Sam takes off his hat and wipes his forehead while he makes his way back to the bar. "Yo! hold up…Wait!" Vanessa exclaimed. He’s disgusted with himself. Sam goes back to the bar and he sits there for a few moments. He gets up to leave. He comes outside not knowing how he really feels, but he knows the plan was a bust. Punta Cana Andrea and Vanessa are outside waiting on him.

Punta Cana Andrea closes the gap between them. She slaps him and while she does Vanessa winces. Sam's right nostril begins to trickle blood. He wants to punch her in the face, but the slap reveals something much ore valuable. "So what you're stalking me now? You wrap my sister up in your bullshit! Why did you come here? Answer me! " Punta Cana Andrea exclaimed.

Sam has an attack of conscious and like many other hair brained ideas he has a sudden urge that he has to get out of this before it is too late. Punta Cana Andrea draws closer to him little by little as he remains silent. Vanessa goes back in the club. "This is all a mistake." Sam said.

"My sister told me everything. What was your plan? You came all this way...Where were you going to stay for the night? I don't even know why I am so pissed at you right now. I know you think that I did you wrong in Indianapolis because we had some kind of connection. I'm not apologizing, but maybe I was scared the next morning when I woke up next to you and it felt like I belonged with you. I ran your name and your life is a mess. It just made sense to go. Now you're here and I don’t care if you made a mistake…I can’t let something like you get away from me...at least for just a little while." Punta Cana Andrea said and they dance for hours until their feet get sore.

In a frenzy of intense passionate lust they go back to Andrea's apartment and engage in sexual congress until exhaustion, extreme fatigue and their bodies literally spiral into a blackout.

Sam snaps back into the present moment as Punta Cana Andrea shuts and locks the door to his apartment. She looks at him and just like she did that day outside the club. He has an attack of conscious. "We shared something real that first day and you left me. I had to chase you all the way to New York to get you to stand still long enough to see past my raggedy ass life. You bloodied my nose. You made a choice to leave me in Indianapolis. I came to New York knowing that I had no where to go. Now after it all you catch feelings. What happened to the "Little while" you were rapping about outside the club that night? Look at you about to cry and I know there’s still so much you don’t know about me. Are you still hungry Mami? Tell me what you're hungry for. Are you hungry for the same thing, or the same thing the time before that?" Sam said. His words cuts to her core. Her eyes are filled with tears and one rolls down her cheek.

"I'm hungry for you, you bastard! You know what you are doing! You know that you make me feel this way! You want me to keep paying for what I did? You want me to keep proving myself! I have given you everything what do you want from me? You want to break me! You want me to be like this all the time! Damn you! I love you dammit and it makes me crazy." Punta Cana Andrea exclaimed and she wildly slaps Sam. She begins to tear at his clothes and he persistently gets away from her. The more he resists her, the more Punta Cana aggression comes to a head.

Everything that needs no explanation is in Punta Cana Andrea’s expression. Right now she’s not about playing no games. Right now she has her "She’ll take whatever" she wants swag full and in living color. This is where Sam has to be careful and he has to make smart bets, because Punta Cana Andrea does know his weakness, which is the sexual desires of the flesh…the city and capital of their connection with the citizens of this state being each other’s needful things.

She draws close and Sam’s expression is blank. He is doing everything not to fall into his own trap. He finds it hard to catch his breath when she is this close to him. He breaks and he kisses her hard, but gently on her lips. Punta Cana Andrea is now been pushed over the top.

Her kisses are addictive…her smell is intoxicating and there is an insatiable fire in her eyes that scares Sam, but that he could not resist throwing himself into if he got too close to the flames. Punta Cana Andrea diligently and urgently un buttons his shirt and half way through she gets frustrated and skips down to his designer shorts-slacks.

She begins to sink to her knees. Sam shudders and inhales deeply. He shakes off the venom of this moment and he grabs her by the shoulders and stands her up erect. "Look this is not going to happen! You can help me pack, or you can have a seat. Other than that I came up here to pack a bag." Sam said and it does not go over well with Punta Cana Andrea.

She still stands there stunned with disbelief and she even feels a little disrespected. She sits down with an attitude and crosses her legs while she begins to cry. "Do you feel anything? Do you even want me anymore? Do you love me! I need to believe that you love me." Punta Cana Andrea said. Sam pays her no mind while he goes through the motions of packing his clothing into a travel size luggage bag. Punta Cana Andrea still stands watching him and she begins to fume with anger.

"So you are serious. After more than 2 weeks you’re not going to touch me, or even give me a kiss…" Punta Cana Andrea said inconclusively while Sam stops what he is doing. He walks over to her and kisses her. While he does she wraps her legs tightly around his slender waist. She breaks out in a sweat she wants to engage in sexual congress with Sam irritably bad and secretly he does to, but he will not allow anything to tarnish his selfish motives that he has in store for Milagros.

Sam pulls back and breaks the connection of the kiss and he begins to finagle Punta Cana Andrea’s legs from around his waist. She begins to feverishly kiss him all over his face, neck and she nibbles on his earlobe. "Andrea stop! Do you hear me?!" Sam exclaimed. Sam has officially killed the moment and he leans in to give her one more kiss and she bites the bottom of his lip until it bleeds. Sam nurses it and she pretends to be sympathetic and when he lets her get close she gives him a sharp slap across his face.

Sam exhales and just shakes his head. Punta Cana Andrea sighs and irritably runs her fingers through her long dark hair. "Okay I’m not in the mood anymore. You need to hurry up…" Punta Cana Andrea said inconclusively while she angrily rambles in Spanish. Sam sucks on his bottom until it stops bleeding. He does not trip on her acting like this because he figures that he deserves it. "Don’t call me out of my name." Sam said and Punta Cana Andrea repeats the same derogatory comments.

Sam finishes packing and he gets his blazer off the back of the futon in his very small living room. He buttons his shirt and puts it back on. He straightens himself out. He grabs his travel size luggage with wheels and he reaches for his carrying case. Punta Cana Andrea quickly grabs it and he brashly snatches it out of her hand.

She smiles amusingly. "While you’re snatching…you can run my money for those plane tickets pimpin. Make that the first thing you do before we get back." Punta Cana Andrea said sarcastically. She walks to the front door and begins to unlock it. All at once Sam runs over to her and presses her against the front door while he locks it back. She is startled. They pleasurably lose time.

Sam is panting while he gathers up his carrying case and his luggage. He heads down the three flights of stairs with Punta Cana Andrea close behind in complete silence. They get outside and she breezes past him and gets into her car and rolls up the windows. She turns the air conditioner on. Sam comes down the stone staircase of the Brownstone and he proceeds to the trunk of her car. He stands there for a moment and she doesn’t pop the trunk. Sam sighs. He bows his head and he waits for several moments. "Open the trunk Andrea." Sam said and she rolls down the window.

She throws the plane tickets out of her driver’s side window. "Ask me without the attitude AND some respect, or you can kick rocks and you still better have my money for those tickets, or my brothers will be through here." Punta Cana Andrea said. Sam’s tablet whistles while he gets a text message from Milagros.

Sam smiles. "Punta Cana Andrea will you please open the trunk." Sam said and she pops the trunk. He places his things inside and he gingerly shuts the trunk with a touch of sarcasm. He walks out into the street and he doesn’t even look Punta Cana Andrea’s way while she mean mugs him. She begins to feel kind of silly about how she’s been acting.

She’s to proud and stubborn to admit it. To Punta Cana Andrea Sam was not supposed to be acting like this. He was supposed to want her whenever she got ready to make love with him. She has never met a man that does her the way Sam does. Someone that is void of charm, elegance, or who is not Dominican. She never met anyone that went through what he did with all 8 of her brothers.

Strangely enough Vanessa that got along with nobody got along with Sam and most of the time stood up for him against her brothers. The ridicule, the disrespect and how he was treated as a whole. Punta Cana Andrea’s family was not racial…they just stuck to their own.

Their own block where they grew up in a close knit Dominican neighborhood in Brooklyn. No matter what her family threw at him he never showed any emotion and now she knows that he knew their language so he heard and understood everything they said about him while they sized him up from their various points of view and strong opinions.

She remembers how hard and determined he strived, but no matter how bad things were he always had a special kind of smile, passion and kindness that was especially for her. She had never met a man like him. He never complained. He never asked her for anything, but everything he wanted was for them to do things together and Punta Cana Andrea gets the chills followed by waves of anxiousness and mixed feelings of how they’re connected when they engage in sexual congress.

Sam knows she is watching his every move and if he displays anything that looks like attitude she’ll go in on him again and she will get to the point where she would try and fight him. He picks up the plane tickets out of the street and he proceeds to the passenger’s side door.

Right now his facial expression, his body language and all of the above is under close scrutiny. He stands at the passenger side door and waits for her to unlock the door. He puts his hands in his pockets and then he hears the power locks of the door unlock.

He opens the car door. He un buttons the first few buttons of his shirt and he takes off his blazer. He reaches in the back and puts his blazer on a hangar that is hanging from a hook above the inside of rear side passenger window. He gets in the car and they ride in silence. Sam’s expression is cold. Part of the reason that Punta Cana Andrea pulls these antics from time to time is to get a reaction out of Sam.

She often hears Sam tell her that she does not know him, but she has gotten tired of waiting for him to show her who he is. She feels like he should know that he’s got it…and that no matter what he tells her about himself that in her eyes he’ll still have it. She did not know how to define this association that she considers a relationship.

She knows they only have really known each other for a couple of years, but she is feeling Sam. She tells herself that yeah things moved pretty fast, but her attitude is now we are here and the fire is still burning. She kind of feels like Sam is playing her, but his Clark Kent veneer says that he has no inkling of what game is.

She also knows that he keeps her foot about knee deep in his behind most of the time for no apparent reason. She didn’t want to run him off, but he had better not be playing her…she was use to all kinds of guys…she was use to picking over the ones she did not like, or who had nothing to offer. She was use to leading the ones on that kept her entertained for a while. She had dated professional athletes and actors.

She had played the game and rolled with the best of the best, but she has never met someone like Sam. She knows how envious her sister is and she has always suspected him of sleeping with her. Now that the tables have turned and she was jealous of Vanessa. How close they were and how well they got along.

It was like he was showing Vanessa a side of himself that he was not showing her. Needless to say that Punta Cana Andrea did not know what to think. She is drowning in emotion. She is angry…she does not know if she really loves this man…and sometimes she does not know if she hates him and at other times she is not sure if this is all just a waste of time.

Her mother warned her about Sam. Her mother told her that Sam already had a promise he was running from in his Spirit and that nothing she could ever do would fill that space and that he would never be able to outrun that promise.

Punta Cana Andrea is a proud woman that grew up hard with her 8 brothers and one sister. Everything she knows mostly comes from her family life. Self reliance in a household with as many siblings as she had was more than just expected.

She always had to prove herself. All her other siblings even the older ones were always put ahead of her. She was always the one drafted by her parents to take care of all her other siblings. She always had to compete for her parents attention and affections. Andrea feels she knows men based on what she experienced in being an authoritarian over her brothers. Punta Cana Andrea has had to fight for everything she has ever wanted and what she hates the most is that people thinks that she is spoiled. She’s spoiled herself.

She’s worked hard every moment and every day of her life. There is no such thing as a hand out, or a hand up to her. The reality that shapes her instincts and who she feels she is derives from three simple life rules she has… Never take care of a man. Never take on a man that is a project and never put anyone ahead of your individual creative force. She had lived by these rules all her life and the result of it is a life she and her family is proud of.

Now Sam has fed her passion with a long handled spoon and frighteningly knows every detail of what she wants and how she wants it. It’s unnerving for Punta Cana Andrea. She relishes in control and knowing all the angles. She flourishes in challenges and she almost has an animal instinct for spotting lame men, or weak people…and she rises above all that.

Punta Cana Andrea did not care if some people thinks that she is arrogant, callous, spoiled and what have you. Punta Cana Andrea represents the Dominican Republic in everything she does…her block where she grew up in Brooklyn and her creative force that flows into her chosen vehicle, which is Journalism, food writing and being a Columnist. This vehicle also carries the commanding presence yet fashionably tact, intelligent and deeply passionate authorial voice of a little girl’s dream and a family’s pride.

While all that sounds good…she hates giving in with a passion and her trophy pride is also her shining weakness. For Sam this is vintage female shenanigans in his synonymous view of women. To Sam a woman wants what she cannot have and often has the things that she has gotten bored with and no longer wants in some way, or another.

There's also the re occurring theme in Sam's head that all women want is a man with money and some kind of status. She thrives in redundancy and the thought of being entertained by men. To Sam a woman uses words like "security" and "going somewhere" in life as a means of covering up the simple state of just wanting to get whatever they can in as stylish manner as possible.

To him no matter if a woman has class, or she is on the corner selling her body its all the same carousel of hot and colds…half-truths, process of selection and a running start into a battery of tests that are casually applied during the chase…only to find out when you finally catch up to her that you should have let her run as fast and as far as she could go.

Sam’s pursuit of superficial beauty and the Dr Frankenstein pursuit of the perfect female creature is a series of juvenile infatuations stitched together and is the catalyst for the same thing he accuses women of…So in this use, or be used national state of affairs…Sam finds himself as an alien in a moment that he is clearly not built for. In the back of his mind it is only a matter of time before she finds out who and what he really is…the reality of him being that unlovable thing to anyone that knows him and even to his family is right around the corner on a roof top with the head of all his lies and hypocrisy zoomed in tight by the steady observation, hand and rifle scope of someone that did love Sam.

In this moment Sam is staring out the windshield, but he is a million miles away. Punta Cana Andrea reaches over with her right hand and begins to massage the back of his neck while she drives. He never minds her. He looks over everything in his life. He owes so many people and he only has one life to pay with.

People that are alive…people that are dead who he wronged. He owes his mother who suffered him as her Jabez just to see him get his life together. He owed his father and his family. He did not owe them just out of guilt, but because generations of strength, love and power exists in who he really is…a truth he has run from and abused the most out of all the people he’s trampled and brought woe to for the gospel of needful things.

Now Sam finds himself doing this to Punta Cana Andrea. Sam wonders if he should have killed himself during those days he could not find the energy to get up and face the day…he wonders if all the suicide notes he wrote to life by getting locked up she have given him the coffin nail he was looking for. Sometimes Sam think he is sentenced to life and to give everything he has…when he has lived so long taking and taking from so many faces love has taken in this masquerade ball somewhere between life and death. Somewhere on a twilight of misery with the occasional breeze of certainty.

The 12,000 a month did not mean anything to him. It was an empty thing… a plate of junk food and when it was gone the plate was dirty…like he viewed himself…a detestable and vile thing that existed in mercy and ran from divine favor. In this moment Sam is lost in a Nautilus shell and his childhood fear is like Penny Wise the clown on Stephen King’s "It". He just wanted to be somebody.

He just wanted the greatness that haunted him all his life to shape up into something that would look like a normal life and not the pilgrimage of an exiled Alien that is accepted somewhere in the 187,000 mile per hour speed of light. Something that surpasses the delusions of needful things, time, space and matter… which arrives at the walkway of his family’s household of his mother…or the descending hill down to his grandfather’s trailer in Mount Olive Tennessee and for a time Leroy Sr’s house. Love that never fails.

The pain starts again…the sharp teeth of guilt…all the destruction and all the things he’s done to other people and that has been done to him begin to turn inward. The line between being a victim and being blamed and being a predator all bleed together into one truth scorched with the memories of 36 years and 9 months of disappointing people, failing, trying to fit in, sense of belonging and throwing his family under the bus as a child and some of his adult life.

The fear of mattering and all the sinister ingredients that shaped the head of Sam’s dragon that very much looked like a man. His life and every conscious moment of it has been to prove that the warmth he once so desperately sought under this dragon's wing is a lie. He wanted to kill this thing. He also knows that the lust to destroy this dragon is a chase that consummates. The chase that leads to a trap…the final move on the chess board where Sam kills the beast he finally becomes the beast.

He finally puts on those last pair of shoes that he will never take off again. The greatest trick of this fiendish creature that consummates a sick marriage of violence that begets violence forever. A sick marriage where Sam would be both predator and prey in the jaws of an endless nothing filled with billions of screams

Sam tears up while he stares straight ahead in a daydream like state. Punta Cana Andrea wonders where Sam is when he is like this sometimes. She wonders why he is so tortured, but he never lets her get close enough to know anything and this does more than just drive her crazy.

For her it is an intoxicating challenge and a profound tragedy of this nomadic man that she is hungry for in so many ways that he would probably lose himself in her if he were to try and feed her everything of himself that she wants. The mystery is an enigma that Punta Cana Andrea is driven to unwrap no matter the cost and that "no matter the cost" frame of reference is one of the things that frightens her the most.

Punta Cana Andrea tries to break the silence and apologize at the same time in one heart felt gesture She reaches out and begins to sentimentally caress the side of Sam’s face. He snaps back into reality from his day dream state under what she considers to be her thoughtful touch. She wipes away his tears that does not match his expression that is stone. After a few moments of this.

Sam takes hold of her wrist and he still looks straight ahead. "No need for that…you did what you meant and I do what I mean…If it’s not an inconvenience I need you to drop me where I can catch the "A" train, or the "C" so I can catch connecting ones to Flat Bush. You know how I am horrible with directions, but I’ll figure it out. I’ll meet you at the airport." Sam said.

Punta Cana Andrea look sat him sympathetically. "Why do you do this to me? Yo it’s crazy how I got mad love for you and I don’t even know you kid. You know I’ll take you where ever you want to go…I’ll give you my last and you know I’ll keep you no matter what…so why you keep hiding from me? Yo! Look at me Papi! Do I make you that unhappy that you can’t just give me this…you know what I’m trying to say!" Punta Cana Andrea said. Sam turns to her with a cold and calm expression while the tears continue to flow and threaten to never stop.

"Why do you have to try and say anything? Just say it, or don’t. You play so many games trying to test me…and you do this lab mouse bit and you get mad…I’m here… with you. You’ve been with me every step of the way since I touched down here in NYC. You want me to lose myself in what you want and how you want me to give it and I keep trying to spare you this hole in my life…but you lust for it. So here’s the truth…I’m using you and you’re using me…do I love you? I can say I don’t know because in the past things I loved…my love has destroyed…do you love me…not really if you don’t hate me at the same time. Are you taking me to the train, or are you dropping me off." Sam said.

Punta Cana Andrea does not know how to feel. She is mesmerized and everything in her tells her to be done with Sam, but she can’t. Sam is in her head. He’s in her head and his touch within these dwellings is so deliberate and measured that she knows that he knows what he is doing to her…then at the same time he totally denies it and his Clark Kent veneer confirms it. She knows that some of what he is saying is true, because this moment is what feeds her addiction of him…This very moment where he hurts her and loves to her at the same time even though his mouth says something different. She also knows that there is so much more than what he is telling her.

She wonders if she knows about the guys she goes out with sometimes after work. Most of all she wonders if it would even matter to him, because under the scrutiny of test she had run him through with that topic as the spearhead in the past…she got no response. No jealousy…no envy and nothing she could identify as the intense passion that flares up between them at a moment’s notice when they are exercising it in a physical capacity…a time when it feels like there are dancing that night outside the club until their feet got sore.

Another text message whistles on Sam’s electronic tablet and Punta Cana Andrea tries to ignore it. Her jealousy and her intense need to know is clear and evident even though she is trying very hard to keep her attitude from opening up into a dramatized and emotionally charged scene. Sam looks at her fondly he knows what she wants more than the knowledge of who this message is from…she wants that argument and that reaction she is always squaring him up for. He contemplates how to deliver and then he stakes a stab at it.

"You don’t have to be all up tight like that…you want know who it is Mami? So what if you want know! You think I don’t know… that I don’t know about the dates with your coworker…dinner at his house! You aint talking now…why don’t you slap me and tell me I’m tripping…you don’t think I know you’re having sex with him?

Yeah you want to stomp around in my little life like the fifty foot damn woman on her period. With that other man you tip toe around and feed him the main course right? You think you make me feel special with those things you do to me while we have sex? I'm not that special. You think those new things that you do…that I don’t know you’re learning from someone else? You want to play horse and carriage…but your trophy Dominican with a sterling 9 to 5 is the one eating at your momma’s table! Why would you be with a guy like me if you thought I was slow enough to keep going for this shit? Yeah you can get your little change for the plane tickets. All this full court press shit. So why slum with me? Go do you…like you’ve been doing…pimpin." Sam said.

Punta Cana Andrea’s face is numb and heart dances in her throat. He wants to say something, but she does not know what to say. She wants to turn it around, but there is no angle to spin things. She is angry and she wants to slap him. She is confused and doesn't understand how he knows. She knows that she has had Sam pegged for quite some time. He was basic and it is no way he should be able to read her.

She periodically glances over at Sam that glares at her with a smug egotistical expression chiseled with an amused scorn. Sam laughs to himself. After a lot of heavy sighs and body language that screams "AWKARD!" Sam turns his attention back to the road. Punta Cana Andrea finally got what she has wanted and it is not nearly as satisfying as she thought it would be.

They arrive in Flat Bush and they go through the streets until they reach Ocean Side Ave and they follow it to the Jamaican Barbershop where Sam gets his hair cut. They pull up out front of the moderate sized family owned establishment that has been in the neighborhood for more than 40 years. People come in, out and others watch the ball game on television and just socialize in an atmosphere they are clearly comfortable in.

Sam opens the door to get out and Punta Cana Andrea catches him by the arm. "Yo! You just going to leave it like this?! I mean can we talk…what!" Punta Cana exclaimed confusingly. Sam shuts the door.

"We just talked. What else needs to be said? You’ve been knowing what it is and now you know that I know what it is. I mean I get it he’s your trophy guy…then one you can bring home and as far you getting smashed by that man…I can’t tell you how to live. It’s clear you are going to do what you want to do anyway. I’m not into sharing though, but you’re a big girl you make your own decisions and this situation is no different…and why would it be? Because I know…If that’s the case it should have been different when I didn’t know. I mean I enjoy your company…there’s not a bunch of re evaluating that needs to be done. It is what it is. There’s not a lot of stuff to work on, because this is what really is. There’s not long dramatized story about what we need to work through…or no if you stay, or go speeches, because all we have is right now in this moment. If we see each other again then all we will have is right in that moment. You never made any promises and I never expected you to. Am I hurt yeah I’m hurt, but that’s life. I’ll call you when I need you to pick me up." Sam said and he leans in to give Punta Cana Andrea a kiss.

Her make-up is running from the fresh tears that roll down her cheeks. She feverishly wipes them away while she searches Sam’s eyes and leans in to give him kiss. Sam avoids kissing her on the lips at the last minute and he gingerly and passionately kisses her on her right cheek. Punta Cana Andrea is ferociously upset.

This is exactly what she didn't want. She didn't want his opinion of her to change and not matter how cold she feels he is Andrea can already tell that he is different with her. A different that she does not like. Sam pushes the automatic trunk button on her key ring. "Wait... I thought you said…I won’t see him…I promise." Punta Cana Andrea said gingerly. "No promises…no unnecessary changes…I mean we’re good. I’ll call you and if you’re not bust you can pick me up and if not I will see you at the Airport." Sam said.

Even though Sam's mild disappointment and hurt is only a brittle mask of relief. A relief of the guilt he has felt concerning Andrea. He was clear now. In Sam's mind everything is now honest. Sam proceeds to the trunk and he gets his tablet and his phone. He puts his cell phone in his right pants slack pocket. He goes through his email messages and makes his way into some message in his inbox.

His Barber who is named Troy throws Sam their usual greeting. Sam is totally tuning Andrea out and he feels pretty good about it. She watches him go in and she can figure out why he looks like he did when she dropped the news on him. She begins to pull off and all at once she impulsively pulls over and runs up onto the curb while doing so. She puts the car in park. She grabs her keys and slams the door behind her. She walks down the street to the barbershop where she just dropped Sam off at.

She comes in and she looks around and finds Sam. She walks over to him and he looks out of the corner of his eye while he is still looking straight ahead. He sighs. Andrea sits down next to him. "I think we need to talk some more." Andrea said. Sam does not respond, but he looks straight ahead. He is looking at what is on the television screen, but he is really paying in no more attention than he is Punta Cana Andrea. Andrea follows his line of sight.

"Please don't do that you know how it makes me feel! I'm sorry I got loud. Is this what it is now? You can't even look at me? Did I hurt you that bad that we can't at least talk about this?" Andrea said.

She tries to take Sam's hand into hers and he finally turns around and irritably looks her in the face while he removes his hand from her grasp. "We are not in a relationship. The playing house and power struggle shit is done. It's tired. What makes me sick and tired is that you actually so much into the hype of yourself that you really do believe that I am a slow head and a damn fool. You are fucking someone else and that is fine. I owe you more than a lot. You've been there for me and if nothing else what kind of friend would I be if all I thought about was something irrelevant, which me feeling any kind of way about how you do you. I do not have any drama in me. I didn't want to talk about this shit in public, but you keep pushing so I hope you got whatever you were looking for. Now I still need you to pick me up if you're not busy." Sam said.

Punta Cana Andrea calmly. "You don't love me. You never did. You don't feel anything. I hate you, but you are mine! I own you!" Punta Cana said. She flicks out a slap and Sam grabs her by the wrist before she can complete her motion. "Fall back Andrea. Behave and keep your hands to yourself. You should feel good about coming clean, but it is like you are trying to find a way to make me feel bad about what makes you feel good.

He does make you feel good doesn't he? He does do all the things that I won't do with you. He does make you happy, or what would be the reason for you being with him in any kind of way?." Sam said. Punta Cana Andrea snatches away from him and a great sadness becomes vivid in her expression. She tries to hide it, but she quickly leaves out of the barbershops as she begins to cry.

The Barbershop is spacious with a couple of flat screens. Some music is usually playing, but today the game is on so there are no tunes in the air. There is a small beauty shop meshed into the shop and sometimes one of four of the stunningly beautiful stylist…come detangle themselves from their natural diligence so they can get something they need from Troy who is the shop owner, or check for appointments coming in, because they do share a waiting area with the Barbershop customers.

One stylist in particular named Nell often scoffs at Sam, or rambles in Jamaican to other employees and customers while making it plain that she is talking about him loves to pick with him. He ignores her and even though she is uncommonly attractive…she is uncommonly attractive in a city where uncommonly attractive women can be seen in droves at any given time anywhere.

Sam goes through his messages and he is about to talk with Troy, but when he sees her he finagles his earplugs off his key ring and plug them into his tablet. He puts pops his ear buds in and perpetrates. Troy shakes his head disapprovingly at Sam.

"Ah…I seen you…the bad man that makes the girls cry." Nell said with a heavy Jamaican accent. She walks over to where Sam is and he continues to ignore her. When he continues to ignore her she sits down next to him and he looks up and stares into the television screen like he is watching the game.

Nell purposely tries to see what is on his electronic tablet’s screen Sam just shuts it off and places it in the cloth case his mother sewed him. Nell tenaciously tries to find a way to annoy Sam. "I don’t see what she and the other one see in you…you’re not pretty…you’re a liar you’re a momma’s boy…you’re soft…you’re broke… you’re mean you… you have a large head and you too skinny." Nell said.

Troy watches amusingly as he finishes the customer he has in the chair. This customer whom is a regular is equally amused and they both watch intently. This customer pays Troy $20.00 while the next customer waiting makes their way to Troy’s chair and has a seat. Sam isn’t amused now and he never has been. To him Nell was a child and she was ignorant by nature. She continues to stare at him while he watches the television.

"I know you’re not really watching this…why you soft and so mean at same time?" Nell asked amusingly. Sam takes his ear buds out and neatly wraps them into a bundle and puts them into his pocket. He continues to look straight ahead and he tries to remember that he can’t lose himself in how he has to deal with her, because this is her hood and she’s young and there is bound to be groupie somewhere in the building ready to spark something if he handles her wrong.

"Oh look… he ready to stop perpetrating and finally talk to me…I was beginning to wonder if you like the boys and girls, or something." Nell said with a very matter of fact tone. Sam twiddles with his earphones. "No disrespect, but ignorant bitches that keep shit going are not my type. I have found that these kind of women need to much attention. Oh, but I possibly couldn't be talking about you, because you're not that and you don't do any of those things right? Despite that you’re not my type. You talk too much. You’re childish. You’re condescending. You’re spoiled and I can’t tell if you have class, or not.

You’re a bully and I might be everything you said except for the liking boys and girls fishing comment you put out there. So there… are we done? Can I sit here and mind my business and hope against all hope that you’ll do the same in some other place besides right here in my space." Sam said very politely.

Nell straightens up while her breathing quickens. Her hands are clenched in tight fists. Nell smiles, but she really isn’t smiling. She feels disrespected. She cannot accept that he rejected her and talked to her like he just did. She doesn't know if she wants to slap, or punch him, but her aggression toward him is so high that she can taste it.

A lot of what Sam said hit home with Nell and she is extremely aroused. She is giving Sam a she wants to fight stare down, which is just the surface of the fact that she clearly is not taking what Sam said well. Troy intervenes.

"Come on Nell you can't be blowing the spot up. The man said he don't rock like that so kick rocks." Troy said, but Nell sat there for a moment longer. She is finding it hard to leave. She rambles something in Jamaican to Troy. One of her appointments comes in and she leaves Sam alone and greets her.

She gives Sam one more glance that is mixed with a lot of combustible elements that Sam was trying to avoid, but she has picked with him for so long that Sam feels he might have said more than he needed to. She begins to walk away and Sam sighs deeply with relief. Nell goes over to Troy and she whispers something to him that he does not approve of. Sam never minds them. She badgers Troy for a few moments and he agrees. Nell finally goes to her station where her customer are just now being seated.

Troy finishes up his customer and gestures for Sam to come sit in the chair. He now has his electronic tablet back in hand typing away. A skeptical expression peeks from underneath Troy’s white out N.Y. Yankees fitted cap. Sam sits down and takes his hat off and places it in his lap. "Usual?" Troy asked.

"Yeah a bald fade and just the mustache." Sam said. Troy is paid by the previous customer in the chair and they exchange expectant glances while Troy gives the man a fifty dollar bill. They bump fist and exchange the glare of an inside joke while they make it no secret they are looking at Sam. He begins on Sam’s hair. "Yo, shorty don’t mean no harm, but word…what you said that’s real. She’s been feeling you for a minute and now that you’ve reached into her bag like that you gotta her kind of hot for you…she wanted me to ask you for your number. She got like mad respect in that modeling world. Her people that come through rocks that bread in their swag. She gets it fam." Troy said.

Sam does not say anything. Troy continues on. "Yo its crazy how many cats have brought it to her up in here and she’s like June Ramsey from Hell’s kitchen…slaying fam for they even get out the gate. Yo I just think you’d be good for her…hear me?" Troy said. Sam has been texting Milagros since the beginning of this conversation with Troy.

Sam has no reason to trust Troy. In most situations like these that Sam has seen in his life…if someone is advocating, or what Sam considers "sicking" a woman on you like this there are some devious ulterior motives involved that are aimed at separating something that they perceive as valuable from your person.

Sam listened and he contemplated. He weighed what could be a win for him in this situation, because Nell did represent an enlarged social network that holds not only strong word of mouth marketing, but invaluable leads.

Of course the potential for more money means more problems and he is not sure if taking on the intricate maintenance involved in keeping interpersonal relations with Nell is a task he is up for right now. Sam is sure that between Nell growing up and not playing her game, which she is probably a prodigy at and having to pull out another chess board so he could learn by repetition of how to break her down…he’s not sure if any amount of money, or goal is worth this.

Troy finishes up his hair and Troy grabs a mirror. He places it in front of Sm and Sam looks as Troy slowly rotates the mirror around Sam’s very blended and impeccably cut bald fade with about ¼ of an inch on top. Troy cleans him with a barber’s duster and gives him a once over before he flips his barber cape off of Sam like he’s magician performing a trick.

Sam finagles his electronic tablet in his hand and he places hi shat in the same hand. He stands up and looks in Troy’s main mirror one more time. "Got a towel? " He asked and Troy grabs one of about twelve neatly folded ones on the counter in front of his main mirror.

Sam mindfully wipes his collar off and dusts himself off. Troy trips off Sam’s personal maintenance of himself, but he understands seeing how expensive his clothes are. He puts his hat back on.

Sam gives Troy $20.00 and he heads towards Nell’s work station. He stops a few feet shy of Nell’s station and she tries to act like she does not see him. He does not buy the whole timid act and he proceeds until he reaches her. "Excuse me. I have to be honest so please excuse my attitude sorry if I will seem rude…here’s a number, but you can only text me…if it’s clear to me that we both enjoy the privilege of eachother’s time we can upgrade to calls and maybe hang out and do something. There’s my offer…it may come a across to you a lot of different ways, but just like I’m sure you feel…I’m worth the trouble, the time, the homework and that first seat at my table and me at yours." Sam said. Nell appears to overlook everything that he just said.

"You talk too much." Nell said. Sam ignores her comment. Sam borrows a pen from someone at a nearby work station. The same person that gave him the pen hands him a folded up flier and Nell shoots them a hard glare that they pay no mind what so ever to. Sam writes down his cell number and when he will be back in town. "Offer is only good if you respect what I said." Sam said and he places the folded up flier on the desk behind Nell.

He walks away and he proceeds to the front door. Nell picks up the folded up flier and she does not see his name. She sighs and she understands what Sam’s mild manner ploy is to draw her out and for her to make it plain that she is interested. She likes it and she catches him a few steps outside. "Yo! Mr. bad man that makes the girls cry…" Nell said inconclusively and Sam keeps walking. Nell knows what he wants and she sighs heavily. "Excuse me." Nell said and Sam turns around and walks back to her.

When Sam reaches her Nell looks at him and she eagerly searches his expression trying to let him know that he is feeling her and she is not trying to be cool about it in no shape, or form. "I was wrong…you are pretty…my kind of pretty. What about your name…you not going to write your name with the number?" Nell asked. "My name is Sam. I don’t have a pen, but you did ask me to write it down…do you mind?" He asked. He takes a gamble and he gingerly kisses her on the cheek.

In this moment Sam can remember all his frailties in his dealing with women in his past. He remembers the phase of "take what you can get women" and he settled for whatever kind of woman that would give him the attention he wanted. He recalls trying to hold out for something better and found himself amidst the strangle hold of a porn addiction.

He recalls praying and detailing the perfect woman that he wanted from God. A woman that would defy all the rules of the common design of the game in the world. A woman that would defy the hot’s and colds that he found in one woman to the next.

He remembers following his little brother around and his approximation of success with women. He remembers reading books to be successful with women. He remembers believing in the old wives tale of women being out of your league. He recalls all the times he put himself in situations to be disrespected and treated like less than a man. He remembers not being wanted, but tolerated for the sex some women wanted from him. He recalls all the usual suspects of his insecurities and while he looks into Nell’s face he takes pride in his Leroy Hawkins sr gene finally hitting the red carpet of the run way. Finally he had come into his own. Even at a late age he had become the tiger his father was in his prime.

She likes it and Sam smiles one more time before he turns and walks away. Nell watches him walk off for a second and she licks her lips and sighs while she goes back inside and proceeds to her station. Sam walks about four, or five blocks down the street to Milagros apartments. He takes off his blazer and folds it on his arm.

He un buttons his shirt completely until his white under shirt is smiling free and clear. After a few moments he reaches Milagros apartments and her sister is out in front of the apartments. Sam disapproves of the white fitted attire that D is wearing. She is mildly amused that Sam doesn’t give her the kind of attention that she is used to, or does not struggle in doing so. Sam’s famous straight ahead stare like a dog defending his bowl stands its ground one more time.

"Where’s your sister D and where are you going?" Sam asked and she laughs to herself. "She in there and you mean where you taking us…right?" D asked sarcastically. "Look I’m not getting ready to go through this with you and it will never happen with you dressed like that." Sam said.

D laughs in his face. "Oh you trying to be my pops…ah that’s cute, but yeah my sister is mad and if you don’t take us somewhere we will be going somewhere without you." D said. Milagros comes outside in her tan colored well fitted attire. She just looks at Sam and D fondly for a moment. She walks up to Sam and gives him a warm hug and kiss like she has missed him. "We need to talk…You look nice Papi. I know you’re heading out of town so I made some plans for us cool?" Milagros asked. Sam kisses her on more time. Milagros looks at him in his face disapprovingly while she gingerly wipes his lips off with her index finger.

"Yeah whatever…it’s going to take more than that to get you out of this one. Come inside the limo will be here in a few minutes." Milagros said. She takes Sam by the hand and she is playfully giddy and too happy to be as mad at Sam as she wants to be. She leads him up the stairs to her apartment. Sam turns around and childishly pokes his tongue out at D. They head onto the second floor and they come into Milagros’s very comfortable apartment that is deceptively spacious based on what it looks like from the outside. Milagros apartment is lush with rare plants from her country of Nicaragua. Sam sits down on the leather sectional in front of her 52 inch flat screen.

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