within peripheral vision
October 16, 2012
Mr. Brown invited me to his studio last Saturday. I didn’t expect that. I was staring at my phone, looking at his text. His words were at once charming, disarming, and drew me towards him. I might have pressed my lips to the screen as I whispered, Thank you.
We had a reason to meet, ostensibly. I had just landed the interest of someone at The Times cause this is me, pitching a story that didn’t yet exist. It all began with the words “Freedom & Revolution” and soon enough it became all about “Delayed Gratification.” And still, loose change. I had just moved to Brooklyn a couple of months back after seventeen years in Manhattan and fifteen in the Bronx. I always knew I’d end up here in Brooklyn when I was ummm older. And so I was, or rather am, even more so now than when this story first began.
I remember I took the G train, watching the skyline go by, everything low to the ground except One Hanson Place shining bright and I couldn’t breathe. The train was rolling so slowly along the tracks and my heart started to throb as the train rolled along on wagon wheels. Inching forward, my throat began to close and I couldn’t breathe. Everything got numb til it hurt. I needed to vent. Needed to displace this stress so I took out my phone and I whipped off a text: Brooklyn is country, I typed thinking myself a wit. What? Yeaa. He did not reply.
Dig. The train arrived. I walked down this block. It was dirty in the way anything you have never seen before can look unkempt. The Muslim men were staring at me like the Whore of Babylon and I wasn’t even dressed sexy. Just a magenta t-shirt cut off at the neck and black leggings with magenta, white, and grey Dunks. I was doing that too cute to be bothered look that I have always liked. You know how long it took me to find an outfit that didn’t look like I tried?
I cut down another block and it became warmer as the streets were lined with private homes, backyards, trees, and slow-driving soccer moms. I made it to his corner. I saw him across the street. He was looking in my direction. When I smiled, he turned his head away. Knocked the air out of my lungs, just like that. My chest was so tight that I could feel my fingertips tingling. I drew a small breath to ease the shoulders away from my ears. As I crossed the street, I saw Mr. Brown sitting inside his car. You know his car right? The one that he sent me photos of and I felt all special. Like an idiot, thinkinn I was something to him when the moment he sees me he puts that damn car between us.
I was standing a couple of feet away, definitely within peripheral vision, but there he was focused on what he was doing with his foot to the accelerator, pressing it over and over again.
VRROOOSHH. VVVRRRROOOOSSSSHHHH. VVVVVVRRROOOOSSSHHHHHH.
Shit was kinda deafening. And all this exhaust was expelled into the air so now it was me, alone, constricted chest, fumes, noise, alone, ignored and that’s when I hear it. This voice, I don’t know who it was but damn was it serious, it told me straight up, Walk the fuck away so that when he turns his head again, you’re ghost.
soo ILL. I wanted to dead him right here. Fuck you and the car you drove in on. But I don’t.
That small part of me is falling down the rabbit hole as he gets out his car and he doesn’t even look at me, just does that machine-like kiss on the cheek like I’m some nobody. And neither of us, neither of us can speak. It’s always so fuckinnn awkward with this man. But still he makes me dizzy when he speaks ..