May 21st

10:13 a.m.

That’s what the car stereo read as my best friend Khalil pulled up out front.

“All right,” he said putting the hazards on, “I’ll call you as soon as I get in.”

“Okay dude.”

We hugged.

“Thanks for taking me out. I truly needed that.”

“I know you did,” he replied with a smirk.

Shaking my head, I smiled and headed out of the car. A ball started bouncing down the street and I looked up. The guys were all outside Dom’s house dressed in their basketball gear.

“Looks like I’m going to have a little peace today,” I said bending down to look in the window.

“You’re too nice.”

“They aren’t that bad – most of the time.”

“Well you know you have work to do.”

“I know,” I sighed and looked at my watch.

“Okay hun. Call me later.”

“Okay. See ya. Chin up and go do your thing.”

Khalil sped off down the street and around the bend. I waved until he was out of sight.

Halfway up the stairs G screamed out, “Aye Cam! Ain’t that your boyfriend Cam?”

“Who? Khalil? No, he’s my best friend.”

I continued walking to my house.

“See I told you that was her homie,” I could hear Dom saying.

He would know better than anyone else. The two of us talked more than anyone else.

After I made my way into the house, I decided to grab a cigarette and go sit on the step for a brief moment and collect my mental. It was a beautiful morning. Not too hot and not too cold – just right. And the breeze was amazing.

What am I going to work on first, I thought looking up at the trees.

Immediately I started to hear the basketball bouncing closer and closer. Considering the basketball courts were in the other direction, I knew the guys were headed up towards me.

“Where you comin’ from?” Rell asked as they all filed up onto my steps.

“If you must know, I went to this new club downtown. It was pretty cool. I know I was messed up though,” I said laughing.

“What’s it called?” Dom asked.

“Xscape, I think.”

“I heard of it. My homie I work with told me it was a chill spot to go to.”

Dom shook his head in acceptance of my choice of destinations.

“You should definitely go some time.”

“Y’all wanna go this weekend? I’m off,” Dom asked everybody.

“I’m down,” said G.

“I gotta work,” Sharif said kind of down.

“Sharif, you couldn’t go anyway.”

“Why not?”

“Cuz you have to be 21 dude. No drinks for you, ” I laughed.

“I drink now.”

“Man, listen, just because ol’ head at the deli looks out, don’t mean them bouncers are gonna look out. They swipe id’s,” Dom said matter-of-factly.

“Where is the place,” Rell asked.

“It’s on 5th street. A block over from Macy’s.”

“Oh I’m not going down there.”

We all gave each other a look that said “Here we go.”

“Why not,” Dom and I said in unison.

“I’m not hangin’ down there with all them white people. There be too many cops.”

I raised my eyebrow. Typical, I thought.

“First off, there are barely any cops down there. Secondly, hanging out with white folks is awesome. Their friendly as hell.”

“Definitely are,” Dom chimed in.

“They will buy you a drink in a heart beat,” I said with Dom shaking his head in agreement, “Last night a group of chicks were sitting outside smokin’ weed and they asked if we wanted to join them just because I said hi.”

“Shit. I would of took it,” Rell said slapping fives with G.

“What would be the point in that. Shit like that just happens, especially if you’re nice to talk to. Why start trouble.”

“If you dumb enough to pull out weed in front of me than you dumb enough to get it took by me.”

I looked at Dom, G, and Sharif for help on this one. No one said anything.

“Well that’s just fuckin’ stupid. But whatever.”

I wasn’t in the mood for a back and forth so I quickly proceeded to change the subject.

“So, y’all going to play ball?”

“Yeah. I’ma go whoop on these guys right here,” Sharif said proudly.

“Whatever dawg. When’s the last time you won a game?” Rell asked with his hands on his hips and the ‘fuck outta here’ look on his face.

“Last week.”

“Naw man. Aye G, did he win a game last week.”

It sounded more like he was telling him, not asking him, but that’s how he operated.

“I don’t remember,” G responded. An easy way to exclude himself out of the impending argument.

“Well take yourselves down to the courts and leave me alone,”I said half playing, half serious.

They all started to file back down the stairs and headed for the pathway. Rell and Sharif were still going back and forth with who was better than who and their all time winning ratios.

“See you later Cam,” Dom said getting up to leave last.

“See ya.”

I got up and walked in before anyone had the chance to turn around and put me into something. Plopping on the couch, I allowed my mind to wander to my work and ‘the deadline’. I racked my brain for ideas and instinctively dozed off.

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