Don't Answer The Phone
by Michael Tillery
As I sit across from you my thoughts seep to you with a smile. A smile so glorious. A smile that should be. A smile that attracted me to your shadow without a first sight of reality. This is relaxing. It's good to be out with you. Laughter is heard that rhymes with the sound of knives and forks, server smiles and expensive socialite style. I can't help but to look at you. You glance at your phone once and once again the very next second as if your eyes were a lie. I say nothing. The music so jazzy dancing through this busy establishment moves to the beat of your obvious sadness. Slow and succinct like honey without Jill's molasses. Good gosh. You should be happy. I see your eyes shoot disgusted to the left...to the floor. I can only imagine what haunts your mind. Even still, the poetic beauty of your everything is why I'm lucky to be part of your fly essence. I wonder just how beautiful you are in the times where your smile drifts to the breeze of an autumn park...cheerful with activity. Smiling faces of fun seeking children. New couples. Old friends. Veteran relationships. Ambitious joggers and happy to roam lifelong pets. Then there is you...still at the restaurant. You scream inside. Your stomach hurts. That sad feeling washes over your entire being. The friend that I am is helpless. There is nothing I can say. There is nothing I can do. This has to be done by you. Will time heal all? Will time take the place of bad memories and desire strangled by frustrating nothingness? How you will be...my friend? How will your life find its truth? How will the past purity of your youthful existence matriculate to a current state of objective and reasonable comfort just so tonight...you can have a semblance of fun?
I see your eyes...
Tears are the salt liberating the determination you have become of me.
Smile darling. Smile a dream of solitude. Stylish as a Marvin bridge...sensuous as a Sade whisper.
You are all of this. My shoulder is not that far away but it is never bothered by your chin...your soul...your cold.
I must protect you. I will never leave you. I tell you all the time but I know you know this.
I envision you tossing and turning when you are alone and the sun sleeps. Crying of anger, resigned to fall into the melancholy music tempting your mind. You hear my voice hypothetically say "Turn that shit off" and throw your ear buds at the same time the server taps my shoulder...
"Sir...sir. May I take your order?"
I look up again and your silhouette becomes a puzzle. It falls apart. It finds itself together then breaks into pieces.
The server interrupts this psychological something or other once again. He's more serious this time. "Sir! May I please take your order?" "Pardon me." I say. You pause and ask. "Are you OK?" "Yeah...yeah of course." Shaking myself back to the present. I defer to you. You order. I order. Wine cork pops. The sound from the deep edges of red pours. A lifetime of not too glad memories fills with the glass. "Snap out of it girl." I say like a big brother. "You've worked hard all week. I will do my best to make you laugh. Trust." You give me that don't bother look until I threaten to do something crazy like jump on the table until it crashes...
You laugh. What? You do for a while to the point it's noticeable. Now I'm laughing...for I am happy. The Neptunes remix of Sade's By Your Side makes you dance a little in your chair. Your lips do that thing they do when the groove moves you. This is wonderful. Sangiovese. We toast. Your spirit lets go. I want to dance with you in the middle of the busiest restaurant in the city and the hottest time of the night. You oblige. People look at us. Some seem embarrassed and some women...and their men smile. The aforementioned veteran love thinks back to initial moments of relationship bliss.
Then the food comes. You laugh. We are out of breath. As we sit, Lena sings I Want A Little Doggie. You talk a mile a minute (because I am in fact that little doggie) of how much of a nice time you are having. I'm quiet. Listening. I ain't saying shit. I adjust my tie. I feel my phone vibrate but wouldn't dare to look. Nothing will take me from this moment when the friend of my life is stuck in joy. You cut what's on your plate but your mouth continues to move sans food. I love it. I smile. I chuckle. You are cute. You nod your head to Teena's Portuguese Love. Everything is good. We're two bottles in. The blood of Jove is of course eager to contribute.
You pause and almost soak in what is now but do not say a word of it. You're stuffed. Delectable chocolate cake is your desert...garnished with raspberries. I wave the server off when he asks what I will have...his name is Matt...excuse me.
We talk a little while longer about the ones in my life I do not have...or do not this moment want.
"I know you want to take that cake home after only a couple of bites so don't even try it." I joke. You smile a sarcastic smart ass smile. My smile is sly. The check comes. We thank Matt. A couple nods your way as we walk out. You feel vulnerable. I understand the moment and whisper in your ear something funny. We walk to the car. We laugh and laugh and laugh. A hot track comes on just as I tip the valet. You want to go dance. It's early so I'm down. I make a sharp left. A bowling ball couldn't break this smile off my life. Good music is on. You are my friend. We are fun. There is no complexity. This is all real. Pull around the corner to a Harlem Renaissance like street. You freshen your lip stick. Damn you are hot with your little dress. We scoot to the door. You actually skip. I don't. Hell no. Not me. The bouncers are big as shit. I don't know these cats. You flirt with them. We somehow get in. We dance and sing. You dance with strangers. I do too. You are the envy of the place. So am I...proud as I watch you kick it from not too far at the bar. "Yeah that's my girl" I tell the bartender. He laughs while drying a glass and says "Yeah right" under his punk ass breath. Huh? Who does he think I am? Time slows. You put on the sexy flirt act I know all too well. Cool older cats want to grace the floor with you...respectfully. You give them the time because you are nice with yours. I'm loving this. After my finished T&T hits the bar. Come With Me My Angel by Marvin Gaye makes the dance floor just a little bit smoother. Goddamn this is fun. Nothing negative is thought of. I'm just glad I'm single because no woman would put up with this...as platonic as it is but as fine as you are. You're gorgeous and give the club a nice air of class. It's an older crowd that claps to the beat. We wop. We do the running man/reebok/roger rabbit...everything is funny and fun...but never the Dougie. Nah B. Nah I did that in 1984. It's one of those nights where everyone does the same dance at the same time. Yeah imagine that overhead shot. D Nice plays everything hot. One street...street...street banger after another. My jacket is off. Too much fun...
Time to go...but not yet. Mr. Gaye's After the Dance...the instrumental...keeps everyone in the same spot. I hold you close. I dip you and almost drop you. Hell yeah It's funny. You don't think so but manage to crack a smile after I do some Will Smith nerd stuff. Sade's I Never Thought I'd See The Day is the last song of the night. As we slowly rock back and forth I'm quiet. I'm worried. I look over the top of your head at other couples content to be with each other. You notice. Ask me what's wrong. "Nothing." I twirl you a few times to get rid of my thoughts. Act a fool. You are slightly embarrassed. I could care less who is watching. I'm twisting every ounce of happiness out of this night because I know as soon as you look at that damn phone with no missed calls later all smiles are off.
We leave. Say peace to a few mutual friends. I open the car door for you. You get in and open the sun roof, turn on the radio, take off your shoes, put your feet on the dash...I joke about some butter popcorn cheetoes goes with crunch smell, we laugh, you mug the side of my head playfully and we ride out.
"Did you have fun?"
"Yeah I had a great time."
"I love you girl."
"I love you too."
We both are tired. I see you looking out the window deep with a mind of winding roads. Norman Brown's Take Me There eases the ride home. We joke about a moment like we always do. Pull up to your house. I walk you to your door. Give you a nice hug. A kiss on the cheek and implore you to stay this happy and sane when the sun rises. "I'll try." You smile that pretty smile, tell me goodnight and close the door.
Just as I walk away...smiling and happy the night went so well I hear your phone ring...