Nothing To Lose {Chest Naked In The Park Part 8} (Meet the Demigod)

He walked carefully.  All his belongings were in a black backpack, with the straps adjusted so he could feel the pressure of all his “monetary assets” up against him.  Inside were his running sneakers, his last packet of protein powder, his bible, “The Autobiography of Malcolm X”, 2 boxer briefs, and a white V-neck t-shirt.  He had a money clip with no money.  His sister bought it for him for his 21st birthday.  The engraving said “Take or be taken.” He had a pre-paid cell phone with about 14 minutes left on it.  He had Vaseline wrapped in aluminum foil just in case his lips got chapped. His keys were digging into his side so he reached into his fitted jeans and threw them in a gutter.  He had no need for them now.  He was never going back “home” again.  It wasn’t safe there.

He walked carefully.  Not by choice but by circumstance.  He walked corner to corner.  He looked both ways before he crossed the street. Left foot…hobble…cane.  Left foot…hobble…cane.  Left foot…hobble…cane.  He once was a quick, strong, sexy, confident, man with an unrivaled stature and an intimidating presence.  Now he was unemployed, homeless, single, scared, far from athletic, and semi-cripple.  What happened to him?  All he wanted to do was make enough money to do something big for a change.  He spent his whole life running both literally and figuratively. Fight or flight?  He was the biggest bird you’ve ever seen.  He was a big pigeon defecating on anyone who got in his way.  High school dropout, 2-3 dead-end jobs a year, hoopty after hoopty, and still women would flock towards him.  Tamara was no different at first.

He didn’t even have to say a word.  His significant others had been telling him for years, “just stand there and look good baby.”  He was always the trophy piece.  He knew how to stay in his lane and never ever speak unless he was confident that he could add something intelligent to the conversation.  His looks were his weapon.  His strong jaw, white bright smile with a subtle gap, flawless skin and full lips were comparable to a Mac-10.  His love-making was his suppressor.  So even if a woman had become displeased with his performance as a sound “life partner”, she would stay and shut the hell up.   Tamara was supposed to be no different.

His instructions were simple.  He was to seduce Tamara, divert her attention away from her husband, and make her fall in love.  Then she would divorce Travis and move in with her “chest naked demigod” (he heard her refer to him as a demigod when he was spying on one of her conversations one day.)  Yet, Tamara was different.

There were a few times when he tried to get her attention at the track but she was so emotionally committed to Travis.  Deep down he knew that she wanted things to work with her man.  She was attracted to him but she had self-control.  He wasn’t accustomed to that.  He approached her a few times but it seemed as though Tamara didn’t recognize him with his shirt on.  That wasn’t entirely Tamara’s fault.  Leon didn’t have much character with his clothes on.  Leon was far from a demigod.  Leon was Hades himself.

He had way too much fun with this assignment.  He slept with Tamara’s cousin, Courtney (he couldn’t resist.)  He slept with Travis’ girlfriend, Special (it was so easy.)  He even slept with Travis’ loud mouth bitter mother (she needed some loving.)  He couldn’t complete the task so he figured he would enjoy the perks.  When he and Travis had a falling out over payment, Leon decided to make things more interesting.  He stalked Tamara at her job and he shot out her back window.  He knew all signs would lead to Travis and he thought for sure that Courtney’s feisty ass would retaliate and remove Travis from his list of unhappy clients.  Instead, Travis disfigured Leon’s leg and threatened to do more harm unless Leon left New York.  Leon had one stop to make first.  One person had taken away his chance to do something big.  He had nothing left to lose.  He stopped, readjusted his backpack, and pulled out the only sentimental valuable thing he had left.  “Take or be taken”, he read aloud.  “Damn right,” he said.

To Be Continued…


“Having My Cake and Eating It Too” (Chest Naked Part 7)

“Whats this I hear about my son being a girlfriend beater?”

Travis’ mother, Tori was speaking musically in a key Travis had never heard before. His mother’s voice was high-pitched and her tonality was a falsetto that could rival Mariah Carey. She was angry and he could tell that the conversation was going to be extremely long.

“Mom, I’m guessing you went to church today?”

“Hell yeah!” she exclaimed. Tori then realized she responded to a church reference with the word “hell.” She quickly whispered, “Lord forgive me.”

“I’ve been out of service for a couple of weeks because of the operation on my hemorrhoids. By the way, why didn’t you come see me in the hospital? Sire came to check on me.” Tori took a thoughtful breath and then when   Travis didn’t respond she continued. “Anyway, why did you abuse that poor girl? I liked Tamara. She did so much for you. Pretty girl too. What’s wrong with you? Where did I go wrong? ” Travis didn’t say anything. Every question was rhetorical. This wasn’t a conversation. It was a dramatic monologue. When he couldn’t take any more badgering and his ears began to ring he decided it was time to interject.

“How did I abuse Tamara?”

“From what I understand from Sister Karen , you threw the girl on the floor, ripped her clothes off and borderline raped her. I’ve already changed your name in my phone to ‘Ike Turner’. Then Sister Tamica said you are with some fast girl named ‘Nice’ or some foolishness like that.”

“Her name is ‘Special’, mommy.”

“They should have named her ‘Speedy’ because she’s fast! Apparently I should have named you ‘Stupid’ because you are embarrassing me to no end!” Tori shrieked.

“There’s nothing to be embarrassed about mom. I’m grown. I’m not your responsibility anymore.”

“Oh yes you are! Need I remind you, technically you’re married! Your father left you all that money on one condition…”, Tori said.

“…I must be a married, ‘responsible’, committed and dedicated man. Yes I remember”, Travis finished his mothers thought.

“Yup! That wonderful girl married you knowing you were so …lost. She really believed in you. How do you repay her? You treat her like garbage. I’m glad she busted up your apartment! Glad your brother kicked your -”

“Mom, did you call to say anything positive?”, Travis interrupted.

“Absolutely not,” Tori stated firmly. Then she hung up the phone.

Travis missed his father. They say women with “daddy issues” have trouble in their relationships but what about sons? Travis and his father were buddies and traveled together all the time. They were like brothers. Travis senior supported his son, loved him, and communicated with him. Then when Travis was a junior in high school, his father died of AIDS. Tori told people that it was cancer but the truth was Travis senior was having an affair and contracted it from his lover. Luckily, Tori tested negative. There wasn’t much love-making in their marriage. Besides, Tori insisted on condom use since her handsome husband was always traveling and couldn’t be trusted.

Travis knew Tori was right. He missed Tamara all the time. He didn’t miss her physically but he missed knowing that she would be there if he needed her. She never smothered him. She was patiently waiting to be to be validated. Travis always introduced her with her name and no title.  Despite the lack of respect, Tamara agreed to marry him so he could collect the money his father left for him and avoid the 9-5 rat race.  She never saw a cent.   There was no bells, bows, or ceremony. He didn’t even claim her as his girl. They were married on paper only.

Travis lived a sustainable life at home. It wasn’t cushy comfy but he could survive and that was good enough for him. On the side, he sold his art pieces. That’s when he would splurge on the more lavish things he liked. If Tamara divorced him he would be forced to find a job.  For some reason, his father allocated his money based on his relationship status. Travis assumed it had something to do with his fathers fascination with “The American Dream.” He was always taught you must have family, property, and profession.  Would Tamara divorce him?  He never even thought of that.  He wondered if his brother Sire had begun to plant seeds in her impressionable mind.  He couldn’t stand Sire.  He loved him a little bit but he hated him a little bit more.  Travis was convinced Sire was jealous of him.  Travis was also convinced even though Sire was bigger and buffer…Travis was brighter and looked better.  They were in constant competition.  Travis always won.  He would get Tamara back and keep Special on the side and neither woman would suspect the other.  While he continued calculating, his phone rang again.  Once again, it was his mother Tori.

“Yes maam”, he answered annoyed.

“I forgot to tell you, you need to watch that funky temper of yours.  Keep your hands to yourself and keep your gun in the drawer.  I gave that weapon to you for emergencies only”, she said.

“Ma, I have absolutely no earthly idea what you are referring to. My gun doesn’t leave the drawer and the safety is always on.”

“Boy, you think I’m stupid?!  You shot that poor girls back window out!  According to the rumor mill, her cousin Courtney is working on a retaliation strategy.  You may want to take the safety off that gun, son.”

Travis was alarmed now. Thoughts were swimming in his head. All his previous intentions were quickly overshadowed by concern and obsessiveness. Travis was furious.

“I didn’t do it, mom.”

“Well who did, T?”

“A dead man”, Travis answered. He then ended the call. He powered off the phone, took the battery out and put it in his pocket. He put a shirt on, grabbed the 9mm out the drawer, loaded it and tucked it in his pants. He left a note for Special with specific instructions on how to move out and how to return his key.  Then he swiftly exited the apartment without even locking the door.

(To be continued…)

You’re In Good Hands-Chest Naked In The Park (part 6)

“What the hell are you talking about?”

Tamara’s cousin Courtney was reaming into her.

“Why in God’s name would you borrow $10,000 from your ex-boo’s brother?” Courtney screamed

Tamara was looking over her car insurance policy.  The towing company came to the job to take her car to the auto glass repair shop.  She could have called a cab but it  be was second nature for her to call her older cousin.  Her cousins were good to her.  If she needed anything ever, they were there for her.   They may not be there silently but they would be there.

“It wasn’t $10,000, it was $11,300.  Furthermore, I didn’t borrow it.  He gave it to me,” Tamara said defensively.

“That’s stupid.  You sound stupid.  I’m not saying you are stupid but the words that you just released weren’t intelligent,” Courtney badgered.

Tamara was sitting on her cousins couch watching Courtney as she flailed her arms and attempted to cook dinner for her new fiance.  She dropped everything she was doing to come and get Tamara from work and consequently she burned the steak she was making.  Now she was in the kitchen  attempting to save it and make it edible.  Finally, in utter frustration, she threw the steak and the burnt pan in the trash.  She then began to rummage through her junk drawer for a menu for the local BBQ spot.  Courtney then adjusted her cut off jean shorts, ran her hand over her perfectly shaped up short hair cut, checked out her precisely plucked eyebrows in a tablespoon and then she hugged her cousin lovingly and plopped down on the couch next to Tamara.   She knew Tamara was sensitive and she knew that Tamara had been having a tough time with all the drama with Travis.

“Why did you take the money?” Courtney asked inquisitively.

“Sire knew that I was preparing my demo.  I’ve been wanting to do voiceovers for animated cartoons forever. He believed in me.  He handed over the money. Maybe he felt bad about the way his brother treated me.  I don’t know but I was in no position to deliberate.  My dreams were being handed to me in one check.”

“So now what?” Courtney asked

“Now there’s a hole in my back window because my ex thinks I’m banging his brother,” Tamara said.

“Well …are you?!”  Courtney raised her perfect eyebrow

“Courtney???!!!!” Tamara exclaimed.

“I’m just saying. The boy is sexy. I would do it.”

“No,” Tamara whispered while trying to contain her aggravation.

“It has never crossed your mind?”  Courtney sat straight up in her seat.  She couldn’t contain herself.

“No,” Tamara lied.

Courtney stood up immediately.  “Where’s the justice in the world?  Dudes take a woman to Applebees for a 2 for $20 and they get the drawers but this man gives you $11,300 and he gets no nani points?!  That’s insane!”

Tamara didn’t respond.  There was too much on her mind.

Courtney smiled knowingly.  She knew her cousin well and knew she would never admit to such lustful thoughts.  If anything ever happened with Sire and Tamara, Tamara would take it to her grave and into the afterlife.

“Well I think you should get a new car with a great security system and tints” Courtney shared.

“I don’t have that kind of money right now, Courtney.”

“You never have money.  Might as well be happy.  In fact, if my calculations are correct, don’t you have $11,300?”

Tamara rolled her eyes.

“I’m just saying you manage being broke well.  You pay your bills don’t you? I’d rather you in a new car.  You’re not an Egyptian, Nubian Queen.  No one is going to bury you in your crown with your jewels and your cash laying with your embalmed body,” Courtney then giggled while swirling the ice in her glass.

” The money Sire gave me was for my demo, Courtney.  Realistically, it’s not even a lot of money.  It would be ghetto to put a down payment on a car with $32,000 in student loans.”

“So be ghetto, ”  Courtney said matter of factly.

Courtney was in her element.  She was on her second glass of Wray and Nephews on the rocks.

Courtney had a kick ass approach to life.  Shoot first and ask questions later.  She was beautiful and intensely resilient.  She was a t-shirt and jeans kind of girl but when she stepped it up…she was flawless and breathtaking.  Even women would stop and give her props.  She had a simple and direct way of speaking.  For some reason, whenever she gave advice to Tamara, it stuck.  She was street smart.  Courtney always landed on her feet. If she scraped her knees, she had antiseptic and cocoa butter ready in hand.   Tamara respected her because she was a survivor.

“Courtney, I hear everything loud and clear.  I also know that you are trying to divert my attention away from this problem.”

“What problem?” Courtney replied sincerely.


Courtney stood up so quickly that some of her drink splashed out of her glass.  She licked what she could salvage from her hand and her arm.

“Oh, oh please.  He aint no problem.  All the family we have in law enforcement? All the criminals I’ve dated????! We have friends in high and low places! I got somethin’ for that ass!”

“No I feel like it will dissipate.”

“I don’t even know what that means,” Courtney laughed.

They both laughed infectiously.  Tamara put her hand out while Courtney poured another glass of “happy juice.”  This time they both indulged.  Tamara put her head back and released a heavy sigh.  She blinked and rolled her eyes to keep from crying.

“Uh oh, you have that possessed look that you get every once in a while.  You’re a little overwhelmed aren’t you, Tamara?”

Tamara didn’t answer.  She just sniffled.

“Keep drinking while I look up your horoscope for today. ”  Astrology was big for Courtney.  She used it as a basis for many things.  She gauged all relationships around zodiac signs.  She believed it gave her insight on how to read people.  Tamara had to admit,  her cousin was good at reading people.  She had an understanding for people’s individual needs.  Courtney pulled out her new phone and she proceeded to read Tamara’s horoscope:

“Cancer, if you’re experiencing uncertainty, a level of your life is about to change.  If you feel like you’re living a TV drama…sit back and enjoy the ride!  Try to relax.  Change is the cousin of success.”

Tamara rolled her eyes again. ” Courtney, isn’t that a little vague?  Those things are so general.”

“No they’re not!!!!”  Courtney retorted defiantly.

“Tamara, you feel uncertain.  You’re worried.  You’re concerned about your future.  I’m not feeling uncertain about anything. In the name of impartiality, I’m being honest.”

Courtney sipped again and then continued.

“You are living a TV drama. It doesn’t get any more cinematic than this baby!  How fitting that the horoscope says, ” sit back and enjoy the ride.” Ride?  A car reference?!  Travis shot through your back window!  That is very specific.  Nothing vague about that.”

The more connections Courtney made, the more excited she became.

“Try to relax, ” Courtney re-capped. “I told you to get a car with security.  If you were secure, you would CONSEQUENTLY…eowwwwwwwww big word… would relax!”

Courtney applauded herself.  Spun.  Took a bow and then finally after one long exasperated breath, she fell back into the couch.

“Change is the cousin of success.  Come on Tamara!  I’m your cousin. I’m successful.  If you adhere to some necessary changes, you will win. Orrrrrrrrrr….maybe they mean “change” in a money sense.  You now have new money.  Proper use of it will induce success.!”

“You have to admit it!  That was logical, Tamara!”

Tamara stood up suddenly.  She re-read a small paragraph in the insurance policy.  She pounded her fist into the coffee table and the legs simultaneously broke off.

” HEY!!!! What in the seventh circle of hell????!  Slamming your hand into my table!  That was $22.99 at IKEA, Ms. Karate Kid.  What’s wrong with you, T?”

“I just read a clause that I overlooked  in this insurance policy. ” Tamara then sorted through the papers and looked at her umbrella policy.

“What’s that, T?”

“My umbrella policy.  Additional liability insurance to protect my other assets.”

“So why the alarm? What did my table do to your umbrella policy?”

“I wanted to assess my coverage and my ability to sue if Travis keeps destroying my stuff but there seems to be a tort stipulation in my documentation.” Tamara fought back tears.

“What’s the stipulation?” Courtney asked while nursing her broken table.  She was concerned.  Tamara had a troubled look she had never seen before.  As if she had done something irreversible.  Tamara stood up and rushed to the bathroom nearby.  She crouched over the toilet seat and she unleashed all her anxiety.  She approached Courtney slowly and she wiped the side of her mouth.

“I can’t sue my spouse” Tamara mumbled.

Courtney stood up and handed Tamara the rest of the bottle.

… be continued

-By: Shaun Nickens

Trippin’ Over You- Chest Naked In The Park (Part 5)

Tamara was an emotional wreck.  She woke up a half hour before her alarm clock went off at 5am.  She hadn’t eaten since 3pm the day before.  Her appetite was shot.  Her patience was low and her disappointment was high.  Tamara draped an old T-shirt over her television.  She had no desire to watch the nonsense disguised by capitalistic puppeteer’s  as entertainment.  She was over it.  She was over it all.

After showering she stepped out of her towel.  She sprayed hair spray under her arms and sprayed deodorant in her hair.

“Oh I’m buggin’ “, she admitted to herself.

She still had Travis on her mind. He was violating her head space.  She had no idea why she allowed him that kind of power.  People can’t take your power away, you give it to them voluntarily.  You have to allow someone to have control over your thoughts.  Travis was a jerk but Tamara allowed him access into her temple a long time ago.  He had entered her mind, her heart, and other unmentionable body parts.  Maybe it was her ego that was bruised.  It had only been 3 weeks and Travis had already filled her position in his life.  To add insult to injury, she heard through the grapevine that the girl was gorgeous.  That was irritating.  If she was a mud duck, Tamara would have felt better.

Tamara grabbed an apple and stuck it in her purse.  She threw on some slacks, loafers, and a black fitted t-shirt and hopped in the car for work.  After attempting to put the house key in her ignition about 4 times, she decided it was time for a rushed telegram prayer:

Dear God, please get me through this day. Amen

She was running late, as usual.  She’d make up for it though.  She knew how to push that little car to the limit and there was no ticket that her smile couldn’t get her out of.  Her thighs were burning.  She had been running every night since the “break up”.  At first, it was a pathetic attempt to see her charismatic Chest Naked Demigod.  Then it became a wonderful way to get her mind off of things.  Travis made her feel weak.  Working out allowed her to impress herself with her improved strength.  Physical pain was a distraction from emotional pain.  When things ended with Travis it felt like her soul had been steam rolled over repeatedly and then cars were just driving over her mangled mutilated spirit over and over and over again.  So she worked out…constantly.  When she couldn’t sleep, she’d walk until she couldn’t walk anymore.  Sometime at 3 or 4 o’clock in the morning.  She was determined to have a tight body with a broken heart.  A heart that pumped resentment.

Deep down inside, she thought Travis would get himself together.  She thought he would be remorseful and apologize for the way he treated her. For his emotional inaptitude.  For his brute ignorance.  He never did and she was starting to turn purple from holding her breath in anticipation.  What was that old saying again??? “If you love something, let it go.  If it stays gone then it was cheating on you the whole time.” No that’s not it.

Why did she always feel like a reject from an old Ricki Lake episode?  What was the problem?  Furthermore, why was she so curious about Mr Demigod? “Curiosity gave the cat an infection.” No that’s not it, is it?

Tamara got to work safely and on time. Her day went relatively well.  She forced everything out of her mind.  Kept that coffee coming. The quart of Poland Spring on her desk was actually Grey Goose straight.  Come hell or high water, she was going to make it through.  Ten minutes before her shift ended she got a call from the security desk:

“Tamara Sprout?”

“Yes”, she answered in unpleasant anticipation.

“The 98 Midnight Blue Ford Contour in the East parking lot….is that yours?”, he asked quizzingly.

“Depends.  What’s wrong?”

“Dont be alarmed but there appears to be a bullet hole through your back window.  I wouldn’t drive home like that because one bump and your whole back window will shatter.”

Don’t be alarmed?  Is he serious?

Tamara enhanced her calm.  She took another sip of her “Poland Spring” and then she spoke,

“Thank s for the call, Chris.  I’ll call AAA.”

She made a phone call but it wasn’t to AAA.  She dialed the same number she dialed the night before when she had this same felling of loneliness, fear, anxiety, and disappointment.  The hairs on her arm stood up.  She felt a chill but it was 86 degrees outside.  Her lip started to quiver.  Her hands got sweaty.  Every time she breathed a knot formed in her throat.  The phone felt like it rang one hundred thousand times.  Finally a familiar baritone voice answered,

“Hello Tamara”, His caller ID gave away her identity.  Tamara took a deep breath to keep from crying.  She placed her right hand on her chest.  She put her left hand over her barren womb.  The phone was silent.  It was an uncomfortable silence.  The kind of silence one would do anything to break.  She waited for her courage to build and then she said,

“I think your brother may know about us.”

(To Be Continued)

-Shaun M Nickens

My Brothers Keeper- Part 4 to Chest Naked In The Park

Travis opened the door for his brother, Sire.  They walked passed the Sony flat screen television sitting in a whiskey-logged box.  Sire silently chuckled to himself while simultaneously shaking his head from left to right.  He knew his brothers ego would catch up to him eventually.  He warned him incessantly about playing with a womans emotions and her trust and most importantly her patience.   Sire knew that every woman had a breaking point no matter how much self-restraint she had and how much she was a “ryde or die”.  Tamara was beautiful, smart, humble, submissive and now she was gone.  Sire secretly and silently wished her the best and was glad she got away from his brother.  The “incident” (the name Travis gave to the tragic murder of his TV and his photo) had only occurred 3 weeks prior and already Travis was dating someone else.  She was some chick they met at their cousin’s wedding.  Her name was, Special, and boyyyyyyy was she unaptly named.  She had the intelligence of pocket lint,the personality of a pebble, the refinement of a banshee, a reputation as an international hoe, and none of their friends liked her.  Sire knew Travis missed Tamara.  Its hard not to love a woman who loves you.  Special was just a pretty face and new booty.  Tamara was innately unique and …gone.

Special smiled at Sire when he came in but never officially greeted him.  She only spoke when she was spoken to and Sire speaking to her would have been a waste of oxygen.  When the guys sat down at the table to play chess (they definitely couldnt watch TV), Special left the apartment to get drinks and pizza for the guys.

Wait for it…wait for it…

Travis asked the predictable question, ” So…what do you think of my exotic Nubian queen?”

“WHERE???????? WHO????!”  Sire was rolling on the floor laughing.  He literally fell out of his chair and rolled on the floor gasping for air because he was laughing so hard.  His 6’4″ frame almost knocked over his brothers cheap ass table so he got up before he did anymore damage to his brothers studio apartment or Travis’ injured ego.

“Dont try to play me, Sire.  You know my shorty stops traffic.  You wanted her but I bagged her first.  Don’t be a sore loser.”

“Trav, she’s cute but cut that “exotic” non-sense out.  You and I both know she ain’t exotic.  The word exotic indicates that she is of a foreign nature, different, non-traditional.  When I hear exotic, I’m thinking of a woman who makes me guess her ethnicity, her influences, and her exposure.  The only thing I guess with Special is how many partners she’s had and how many of them I probably know or gave a pound to on the basketball court or in the barbershop”, Sire said while still laughing.

Half mumbling Travis said, ” She is exotic.”

“Aiight.  I apologize.  She’s exotic.  Her toenails are done by Asians.  Her hair is blown out by Dominicans.  Her cosmetologist is Jamaican.  Indians do her eyebrows and her eyelash extensions.  Caucasians at the spa in the mall do her Brazilian bikini waxes.  Not to mention, she’s boned dudes all over the world”, Sire continued taunting his little brother.

Travis couldn’t help but crack a smile at the last part. Sire was right.  Special was high maintenance and manufactured but she was fly!  Definitely the trophy piece he was looking for.

“Listen, you can’t keep insulting her.  That’s not right.  She’s educated.  Got her Masters in criminal justice”, Travis defended.

“What does her ability to write papers and pass tests have to do with the fact that my boy who lives in Canada, knows your girl and smashed that down after 1 Bahama Mama at a bar?”

“Low blow, Sire.  If a tree falls in the forest but no one is there to hear it, did the tree fall?’

“If a tree sluts itself out in St Lucia and no one is there to see it but my boy puts it on the internet….YES that tree is a HOE!”, Sire said.

“You always cross the line, Sire.  Checkmate.”  Travis was focussed on the game while Sire was cracking jokes on his new love interest. “You don’t understand the importance of having a flawless woman on your arm.  You a herb.  Every woman you’ve ever been with had a “nice personality”, Travis said.

Sire flipped the table upside down.  The chess pieces flew everywhere and some of the glass pieces shattered.  Sire’s large frame loomed over his brother.  He positioned himself so that there was only a centimeter between his pocket knife and his brothers right eye.  He put his mouth at whispering distance to Travis’ ear and said, “If you ever talk about my wife in that manner again, I’ll cut you into tiny segments and use them as your replacement chess pieces.  Then I’ll hang whats left of you on the wall where your flat screen used to be.”

Sire’s wife died 2 years prior.  She was the only woman he had ever been with.  He loved her and his family loved her.  She was a beautiful woman but she had a rare disease that took away her thick long hair and her coke bottle-shaped body.  Even as the end was drawing near, Sire remained loyal and faithful.  Truthfully, he met Tamara first and if he hadn’t been emotionally attached to his wife, he would have courted and dated Tamara.  Travis coaxed his brother to cheat but that wasn’t Sire’s style and he adored his wife to the very end.

Travis remained calm but his eye was twitching.  “You’re so sensitive, jeez.  Get that knife out my face, Sire. You play too much.”

Just then, Special entered the apartment with Tamara’s old key.  She was juggling pizza, sodas, and whiskey sour.  Neither of the brothers moved.  They were still in a stand-off.  She looked at the busted up table and the broken chess pieces and stood frozen at the door. Then with a blank stare she said, “Who won the game?”


(to be continued)


-Shaun M Nickens


When The Dawn Breaks-Chest Naked In The Park Part 3

When Tamara arrived at Travis’ studio apartment he was playing Black Ops and watching Discovery Channel w/ Basketball Wives playing in the picture in picture.  He was drinking whiskey sour out of his favorite pimp cup (he won it at his best friend bachelor party last year.)  On his wall was a framed black and white photo of him at the top of a graphically designed mountain in the classic “Rocky pose” with an African proverb reading. “However long the night, the dawn will break.”

How fitting, Tamara thought to herself.  It was time for the dawn to break.  She had been standing in the doorway for approximately six minutes already.  She made a key for herself when she “house-sat” for him one summer and he never asked for her to return it so she assumed they were “exclusively dating” and she moved on from there.  After all, a key was a big deal right?  Well right now it was irrelevant.  She was done.   Travis was okay.  He just wasnt okay for her.  She was tired of love-making that consisted of him asking a bunch of rhetorical questions and answering them on his own.  In example, “Yeah you like that right? Yea you do…yea you do.” -_-   She wanted cinematic love.  Cliche love.  Novel worthy material.  She wanted a happy ending (not the kind he was receiving at massage parlors in the city.)  She knew he wasnt committed to her.  She knew he wanted his ideal.  Deep down inside he had this portrait of his perfect match and sadly she didn’t even slightly resemble that portrait.  She wasnt even sure if she loved him.  She once wanted to love him but he never gave her the chance.

9 minutes and 23 seconds…

Finally she cleared her throat. Without even looking up, he chuckled and said,

“I know a perfect alllll natural remedy for an irritated throat , little mama.  You thought I didn’t know you was standing there? I heard your car when you parked across the street.  I know how many times your heart beats per minute.  You think anyone would ever be in my personal space without me knowing it?  You love attention.  You want the whole show to stop when you walk through the door.  Awwwwwww… it’s not your world girl.”

He’s such an a____

interrupting her thoughts he said, ” You’re probably calling me out my name right now.  Probably questioning why you deal with me.  But I think we both know the answer to that question…”

Travis stopped the game and put the remote down.  He really wanted to finish what he was doing but his “power cord” needed to be re-charged and there was a charger standing in his doorway wearing skin-tight jeans and a hot pink top that looked like it came off easily.  He decided to smooth things out a bit.  He could be a little arrogant at times but it’s because he knew Tamara wasnt going anywhere.  She thought she could change him.  She thought he was emotionally inept.  None of this was the case, however.  Travis knew what he wanted and never settled. Tamara was okay. Just not okay for him.  She was supposed to be a “one-nighter” but he kept her around because she was cute and she had a dependant nature about her.  As a man, it felt good to be needed.  With Tamara, he was needed and wanted.

He attempted to touch her hair but she flinched and took a step back.  So he grabbed her arm and smacked her right butt cheek so hard that it stung and a tear ran down her cheek.  Tamara was quiet.  She just glared at Travis.  He pushed her on the floor.   Purposely missing the couch because his magazines and his remote controls were there.  He glanced up at the television to see the beautiful Shaunie Oneal. “Motivation…”, he thought.  He turned Tamara around, grabbed her long brown hair, jerked her head back and said, “Why do you play these games with me? This isn’t a battle, T.”  He let go of her hair and her head almost hit the floor.  He looked at her jeans again and decided they weren’t worth the effort so he pulled at the waist and broke the top button and the zipper.

“You can go to Rainbow Shop and get another pair”, he said.

Tamara’s body remained motionless. Travis continued his one man show. In her mind, Tamara had already left the building and the “relationship” and this living nightmare.

Wait for it…wait for it…

His classic monologue began, “Yeah you like that right? Yea you do…yea you do…”

Tamara muttered something through clenched teeth and tears.

“What? I can’t hear you”, he said.

I hate you.

He heard that.  Loud and clear. Threw him off completely.  Psychologically and physically, Travis was paralyzed.  He was just playing.  He thought she liked his rough exterior. Was she crying?  When did that happened?  Did he go too far? He didn’t want her but he didn’t want to lose her either.  Not right now.  Travis got up and sat on the couch motionless and emotional.

“I hate you”, Tamara repeated. She took advantage of this lull in the storm and moved quickly to his dresser drawer.  She pulled out his favorite sweats (after all, she’s the one who bought them) and she swiftly took off her jeans and replaced them with the grey Ralph Lauren sweatpants.  She tossed the jeans in the garbage.  She grabbed what was left of the whiskey sour from the refrigerator and poured it over his flat screen television.  Its sparked and sputtered and finally a smile crept over her face.  He still didn’t move.

Finally, Tamara threw the spare key through the glass frame of that sickening black and white photo of Travis and said:

“However long the night, the dawn will break.  I’m cutting your phone off and taking it off my plan tomorrow.  Have a nice day.”

She left and then she peeked her head back in and said, “When I see your mama in church on Sunday….I’m telling her everything. Bye!”

(To Be Continued)