Tyrone Williams

from I’m Going to the Store

Jr.
Jr. The raindrops fall just beyond us under the umbrella. My letter in your letter, though they remain differently letter letter. Your letter is my letter, bent, turned over, sickle cell, sick not dead. Huddled together under the umbrella, we are one in sickness. Safe from rain, health of growth, we grow closer over time like shrinking Sisyphus. We have our love, even now, as we love each other across these states. But it is you who turn away even as I am forced to follow.
r. And still the rain fell. Last Christmas we sat in the large study of a friend. I was trying to explain my finances, the debts, the troubles. And so for five days we lived off of handouts, French fries, a couple of hamburgers. And when we returned home to find another credit card in my name, our troubles were over.
No–remember, I started it–it wasn’t the dining out–Uno’s, Wah Mee’s. Forty Thieves, Busy Bee, etc. Those dances out at the Golden Lion, those cabs, those latenight searches, the pizza deliveries, etc.
No. It was the clothes.
You went through a lot in Mt. Airy–but of course there was no “Mt. Airy” for you, just another place you didn’t have to make as you made up–just to get a suitcase of clothes you never really wanted, the suitcase itself you would soon throw out. So I agreed to buy your clothes. I don’t remember how many or much–just the first burning.
Another Saturday night with one another: spiced fried taters and wine for dinner, a six-pack for Elvira. You said, I’ll be right back, I’m going to the store.
I never understood why you didn’t say you wanted to go out, that you had to find a friend, that whatever. Two hours later I realized you weren’t coming back. Full of beer and wine, blind with rage, I stumbled out on the first of what would prove to be so many useless searches. I walked downtown, traipsing from bar to bar. Home at dawn, hungry and tired, I gathered up your clothes, piled them onto the terrace, soaked them in lighter fluid, and set them ablaze. I sat down in my early morning dawn, slowly drinking my last beer. I didn’t hear the front door opening, the soft tread across the carpet. I didn’t look away as you knelt in the warm ashes, crying, babbling something about can’t believe can’t believe. You ran out.
A few hours later the rage receded, leaving only a dusting of shame, a gray film of guilt. I went out to look for you in Eden Park, Burnet Woods, no luck. Back at the apartment I walked around, touching walls, opening doors, leafing through books, closing cabinets. And then you came in and we fell into each other’s arms, promising and begging forgiveness. I promised to buy you a new wardrobe. I did–with the new credit card. Two months later, at the Dockside, the bank confiscated it via a waiter. Unable to date to pay the balance, I await the attachment of my wages.

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