Chapter 4: Words that Weep
“Words that weep and tears that speak.”
“Is anyone home?” he asks me.
“My Uncle Rudy is asleep.”
He remains quiet for a second thinking. My Uncle Rudy hated my guts. The only one more annoying in the world was Aunt Natalie. At least Uncle Rudy made it clear he hated me. Aunt Natalie liked to pretend to be so sweet until I wasn’t around and she just would talk the most crap about me.
“Make sure tomorrow you act as though nothing happened…”
“What do you mean? We aren’t calling the cops.”
“You kill your grandfather and you want to call the police?”
“It was an accident.”
“Was it? Because I believe you panicked right after you hit him and said everyone will think you meant to do it because he hated you. Were you telling the truth?”
I can’t remember telling him that but it makes sense. I had hit my grandfather and got nervous. I got nervous to the point that I was having an attack. If it wasn’t for Diamonte Rose, I would have fainted. I am sure I told Diamonte
“Yes. Did I tell you why?”
“He’s my father.”
I correct him, “Both.”
He looks t me with this confused look on his face but when he gets it his mouth drops. He gives me that look that everyone gives me. As though realizing now why my nose is strange or my eyes are too close together. He’s realizing that I’m an abomination. And I almost find myself sinking in the couch out of pure embarrassment. Diamonte Rose wasn’t the type to play with anyone’s feelings.
“I can’t have that happen,” is his response.
I’m confused when he says it. I think I’m in the twilight zone.
“Have what happen?”
“You go to jail,” he responds, “You’re far too valuable. Far too talented. I remember when you re-created the dress for my collection when you were just a child. The Prima Rose. I would have hired you back then if I had the chance. I lost you back then, I won’t do it again.”
I knew Diamonte Rose. I’d followed his career since I was a child. Seeing this level of ambition was shocking, to say the least. The fact that he mentions me going to jail scares the fuck out of me. Shit, I didn’t want to go to jail either.
“What—happened to the body,” I ask him.
He walks back into my room with clear intent, running his hand over my bedsheets, “Cheap” was his comment. I would be have been offended, but Diamonte pats my bed for me to sit down with an almost welcoming smile. Let’s just say in the industry Diamonte Rose wasn’t known to be the type to be welcoming. This was different. His face is still as staunch a few seconds after his smile. He comes into himself. He was clearly the shade king even on his nicest day. The kind of guy who feels little emotion except for maybe anger or disappointment. Diamonte Rose is studying me when I walk over. And even though I’ve tried to get myself together I can tell my nerves are giving me away. His eyes have locked onto my vibrating fingers which are struggling to hold onto a mug of coffee.
It’s the middle of the night by now. Far too late to be up. This was the devil’s hour and it seemed like time was up for my grandfather.
“He’s taken care of.”
“What does that even mean?”
“It means you don’t have to worry about it, “ he responds shrugging again, “Listen with the mood I’ve been in I felt like a spree was coming on. Either shopping or killing. I haven’t decided yet.”
I’m not sure if he’s joking until he gives me a slight smile. I return it not because I think its funny but because I’m nervous as hell. I didn’t think this was a joking matter.
“Diamonte this is illegal.”
“The only crime here that I could imagine is you going to jail and no one ever being able to see all the beautiful work that you create for Bautista & Rose,” Diamonte tells me.
“You think I’d really go to jail.”
“You saw him.”
“Yes you did,” he explains to me, “I saw you see him….”
At first, I’m confused. I know I didn’t see my grandfather. I know that it was an accident. It doesn’t occur to me what Diamonte is saying until I see his face twist up in the worst and most wicked way I’d ever seen someone’s face twist up.
“You wouldn’t….” once I realize what he’s saying.
Diamonte nods, “I will. Not because I enjoy it. I would do it because someone has to be the bad guy. Someone has to be the bad guy so you can save face and pretend that you aren’t happy that piece of shit is dead.”
“YOU KNOW NOTHING ABOUT ME!” I state, “I’m not fucking excited that he’s dead.”
“You might want to be careful,” he tells me, “You don’t want your Uncle to wake up and me have to explain to him that you saw your grandfather and purposely killed him so that you can get revenge for what he did to your mother.”
“Why would you do that?”
He shrugs, “I need you. If you come to work for me and do what I say, I’ll make you famous. I’ll make you rich. I’ll make your designs great.”
“I don’t want to design for you. My dream is to be a model.”
“I can make you great. Why be a mediocre walking manikin when you can be one of the most celebrated designers in the world? If you come to work for me, no one will ever find out what happened tonight.”
“This is crazy. This is blackmail.”
“No, what’s crazy is following your dreams. Very crazy. So give it up.”
“It’s not that easy.”
“Sure it is. You tried to follow your dreams and now you have multiple restraining orders.”
Diamonte picks up my phone. He makes me unlock it. Then he puts in the address and place that I need to report to tomorrow. He had no emotion while he was sitting there. He could care less that I was panicking and torn apart by what just happened. For him this was nothing. For him, this was just another day.
He gets up off the bed satisfied with the fact that I knew what to do next.
As he walks out, I call out and stop him, “Diamonte…I helped you. I helped you all those years ago. Why are you doing this to me?”
He puts on his sunglasses.
“That’s the thing about helping people. They might like that help. They might want more of it later.”
“I can’t stay…”
“He is your granddad.”
I don’t bring up the fact that my granddad is most likely going to leave all his inheritance to his precious Landry. There is no reason to say that. It’s always been like this. I carried the weight for my family. I put them first. I literally went sleepless nights to pay for this funeral. Landry doesn’t put a cent into this. Not a fucking dime and my Aunts want him to be the voice for the family at the funeral. Does he do it? Hell no. I’m not even second place…that goes to my drunk ass Uncle Rudy who is getting his R.Kelly on in midday with girls who are probably related to us.
“He’s dead, I’m alive. And I got bills. I got to go to work. Shit. Who gonna pay my bills, you? You gonna get that drug dealer boyfriend to come to pay your cousin’s bills?”
”Does everything have to be about Malone?”
This wasn’t about Malone. I knew my cousin. He wanted to cause a big scene so that he didn’t have to talk about the fact that he’s leaving our grandfathers funeral so quickly.
He nods, “I’ve supported you all your life and All I ask is don’t go falling for this one guy. One guy in this WHOLE fuck-shit world. And what do you do for your supportive loving cousin? You go fall for that one guy.”
Landry is pissed. I know he is because he gets really jittery when he’s pissed and starts slamming things around in his car.
”If you love Deja so much why not fight for her?”
“She fuckin chose him!”
Landry was never going to let that go. I knew that he was in love with Deja when they were together but it isn’t until she left him for Malone that he started to really show the depth of that love. Maybe Malone really did steal Deja from Landry or maybe it was just a case of too little too late on Landry’s part.
”And he is choosing me,” I respond.
Landry laughs, “Is that what you think is happening? He is choosing you? He is going to play with you. As long as you let him.”
”You don’t know him. Your only connection is Deja.”
”I know him. He was my competition so I had to learn him. So I know him and so do you. If not—you’ll be in for a rude awakening. And honestly the way I feel either you choose to be my cousin or you can choose to chase that asshole. I won’t have you playing both sides.”
I thought this was some petty way to get out of the conversation about leaving the funeral but it wasn’t. Landry was pissed and he was giving me an ultimatum.
I shake are my head not knowing what to think at this point but I do know I have to get back to the funeral.
The funeral is the saddest thing I’ve ever experienced in my life. The worst part of it is that I have to do it alone. Malone isn’t here. It was his girl Deja’s birthday and he was taking her out to dinner. Must be nice. Malone was a good guy in that way.
“Where were you again that night?”
This is coming from Uncle Tommy who was married to my Aunt Nat. We all remember when Aunt Nat brought him home for the first time. Even back then we thought it was a strange couple. Aunt Nat wasn’t the best looking woman and every time she even tried to show a good personality, she was diverted into being negative. So when she brings home this kind, sweet guy named Tom, we all thought it was some sort of joke. Tommy was an attractive looking guy. He’d been a big model in his day which was quite some time ago. I think it was his pictures that made me really want to be a model in the first place. I looked up to the guy for the most part.
“I was at my friend Malone’s house.”
“Wait, Malone, the drug dealer?” He asks.
I’m sure he’d heard it from Aunt Nat. I can almost see her coming home one day and telling her husband about the hoodlum that her nephew kept hanging out with. She was very judgmental, behind your back. Of course, if she ever met Malone, it would be all smiles. That’s the kind of person Nat is. Right now she is going around the funeral shaking hands and being fake around all these people who she knew hated her guts.
“I needed a place to stay.”
“You’ll come to stay with us,” he states.
That’s when Tommy puts his hand over me. He turns towards me and smiles, “Of course. Now that your grandfather is gone, you’re going to need a daddy figure in your life—-“
I’m confused about what he means when he says that but then he does something that I don’t realize he’s doing. Tom reaches behind me, in the middle of my grandfather’s funeral, and he grabs my ass! Feeling my Uncle do that shocks the fuck out of me. I jump back almost immediately.
“WHAT THE FUCK!” I scream out.
Everyone in the funeral turns to look at me. I didn’t just jump back but I almost screamed. My uncle all of a sudden puts on a confused face.
“What’s your problem?”
“YOU DON’T DO THAT! YOU DON’T FUCKING GET TO DO THAT TO ME!”
I don’t know why I spas out in the way that I do. I don’t know why as soon as he says it I just see red. I am breathing heavy, unsure of what it was when my Uncle touched me.
“What is your problem?” Aunt Nat walks over and says to me.
“He touched me…”
“Your husband touched me….”
The words come out fast and furiously. I don’t know how else to say it. I say it loud enough for people in the funeral to hear and seeing my Aunt’s expression I’m sure that this is finally the moment that this person is going to take my side on something.
And I’m completely wrong.
Uncle Rudy seems confused, “Touched like how?”
“Touched inappropriately,” I explain.
Uncle Rudy shakes his head, “You trying to say Tommy is gay? Hey Tommy? You like boy booty?”
Uncle Rudy starts laughing. He thinks it’s a joke. I swear I want to hit him. The only thing worse about someone not believing me is someone thinking that I’m a joke. Hearing his laughing rolls piss me off as he speaks to his brother in law. Uncle Tommy looks at Uncle Rudy and the two have this hearty sort of laugh like this is some sort of bonding experience they can tell to their kids or something.
“Am I in the twilight zone?” I ask out loud to no one in particular, “I just said he touched me and nothing. NOTHING.”
And that’s when I feel it. I feel my Aunt grab me by the collar as though I’m some random stranger she met in the street. I almost feel her choking me.
“You’re such a goddamn liar,” she states.
“Let go of me…”
I’m having trouble breathing and me struggling causes my pissed off Aunt to grab onto my collar even harder. I struggle with my collar. Anger is rolling in my mind knowing that not only does my Aunt doubt my story but she is now attacking me.
“You have mental problems. My father used to go out at night for long walks because of stress. The only thing in his life that stressed him was because of you.”
She’d done it.
Somehow without even knowing about my accident, my Aunt had managed to blame this on me. She had managed to look at me and push all of this bullshit on me. And I’m sitting there taking it because at the end of the day I don’t have any power. I can’t say anything.
“Maybe you have a point. And I’m not talking about him stressing the old man. Troy says that he was with his friend Malone the day of the hit-and-run,” Uncle Tommy adds in, “You could tell he was lying.”
Uncle Tommy was never the type to join in when my Aunt attacked. He stood off to the side usually and shook his head as though feeling it was really her issue and not mine.
I’m confused, “What are you trying to say?”
“The paint on your grandfather’s body is the same as the color on the car,” my Aunt says.
They were onto me. Feeling my Aunt’s grip get harder I begin to panic. Maybe that’s why I push her. I don’t mean to hurt her. All I meant to do is push her off of me. Get her off of me. There were already enough people looking. There was enough embarrassment. But when I push her, maybe I do it with too much strength. Immediately I feel bad when I see my Aunt fall onto the ground and squirm in pain.
“FUCK, my arm,” she states.
As I’m standing there shocked at what happened, I hear conversations around me. Conversations like, ‘that’s her weird nephew’ or ‘that’s the different one’. It’s a lot of stuff like that. It comes from everywhere. Two women who I’ve never even met are bold enough to talk about me and rude enough to let me hear. A few other guys have gone on to talk to Rudy who is trying to make the crowd go away by laughing and mentioning, “He always gets like this” as though it’s not a big deal. He is laughing. I’m a joke to my Uncle Rudy.
Then there was Uncle Tommy.
Uncle Tommy decides to take it upon himself and revenge his wife.
“Don’t you ever fucking touch her like that!”
He pushes me aggressively. I don’t fall on the ground but I stumble backward. My uncle is about my height and weight. Maybe I can take him. The thing is I didn’t want to. The thing is when I looked at my Aunt all I can do is apologize.
“I’m so sorry Aunt Nat,” I’m struggling to get out in the midst of the chaos of my Uncle Rudy trying to get people to mind their business.
“My wrist is broken,” My Aunt complains.
Her husband has yet to reach over and try to even help her off her feet. She’s laying there in pain. I am sure I probably really did break her wrist. Rudy is busy talking and repeatedly using stupid phrases such as “Nothing to see here” while her husband is in my face. So I’m struggling to get to her and help her up and I’m assuming Tommy assumes I’m threatening her. He thinks I really want to continue hurting my own Aunt and he pushes me! He pushes me away from her.
Feeling the thrust against my chest I panic and right when I feel like I may need to defend myself I hear a loud BANG!
THE BANG shocks almost everyone and we all turn and see Malone standing there.
Malone has punched Uncle Tommy right in the face.
I’m shocked when I see that Malone attacks him. Everyone is looking in shock when I grab Malone to get him out of there before someone calls the cops.
As he drives me back, I just feel anger. I’m frustrated as fuck and I don’t understand what the fuck just happened at the funeral. I can’t believe something already so miserable had somehow managed to become so much worse.
“Weren’t you supposed to be with your wife?” I ask.
Malone gets quiet. I turn to him. He likes to lean really far back in his seat. Everything about him is a gangster. The way he sits, the way he talks, the way he carries himself and everything else. We’re an odd couple in many ways. The thing is we weren’t even a couple. So I’m frustrated trying to figure out why he was here.
Malone flicks at his lighter. He has his weed wrapped and he looks like he wants to smoke it. I’m not sure why he doesn’t. At first, I’m assuming it’s because well it’s illegal, but I don’t think Malone cares about that. He mentioned one time though he doesn’t like to smoke around me because he doesn’t want it to get on my clothes. Maybe that’s why he doesn’t smoke it.
“I thought it was more important for me to be there for you during your grandfather’s funeral,” Malone shrugs.
I look over at Malone. He’s a hood guy. He doesn’t get sweet, but I am assuming this is him being sweet. I want to blush. I want to smile. But then I get a text from Uncle Tommy telling me to give him Malone’s information and saying that he was going to sue the fuck out of Malone. I look down on my phone. I didn’t need all this drama in my life.
“They won’t let this go. I know my Aunt. She will NEVER let this go.”
“I don’t give a fuck. Fuck them.”
Did he want to go to jail? Malone was acting as though he didn’t understand the idea of attacking someone and going to jail. What if I got caught? What if they thought Malone had something to do with it? He was always with me. I couldn’t let Malone go down for this. I cared about him. More than cared for myself. I loved him.
I had to figure this out. I had to figure out if I even wanted him involved in all the drama I had in my life.
“Why’d you attack him?” I ask.
I probably should have phrased it different especially after seeing his facial expression. He’s hurt that I would ask him that. I can tell. He takes a second to respond. He doesn’t look at me when he does either. One hand is on the steering wheel and the other is tapping on the dashboard as though he’s irritated. His face sinks in and it would make anyone else look unattractive but with sexy Malone, he somehow manages to look even MORE attractive than before.
“He was trying to get at you,” he states, “Why the fuck do you think I would hit him?”
“You made it worse.”
“You want me to apologize for defending you?”
“Then what the hell do you want from me?” he asks, “Make it clear.”
He’s cornering me. And maybe he has a right. Maybe I shouldn’t be coming at him with that. He didn’t understand that my family is all that I had. For him, it was OK to just cut them off and move on. It was easy. He didn’t understand I didn’t have anyone else in my life. My mother was gone and now my grandmother was gone. My Aunt and Uncle were everything. Everything that I had. Everything outside of Malone.
“I want to know why?” I suggest.
“I just told you.”
“No, you didn’t. I don’t understand why it’s important for you to stick up for me. Why is it important for you to ditch your wife and come here for me?”
He pauses, seemingly confused.
“I don’t get what you’re asking me.”
He knew what I meant, he just didn’t want to answer. This was uncomfortable for him. The reacting, that was something that he did often. That was something that he was good at.
“Why do you care about me?”
All of a sudden he shakes his head and he says, “Is it a crime?”
“Yes. Yes, it was a crime. You attacked a man.”
He sighs, “So he didn’t deserve it?”
“Take him out of it. I’m talking about me and you.”
He wasn’t about to squirm out of this. Not this time. This time he wasn’t going to get mad and make it about something else. He wasn’t going to start a fake argument to deflect so that he could call me a little later and pretend as nothing happened. He wasn’t going to get away with this.
“I guess I got a love for you…”
“I have love for the milkman. I’m not leaving my family to go visit him every chance I get.”
He pauses. He hits the wheel.
He pauses, “You sound like Deja.” He laughs but when he realizes I’m not laughing back he pauses again, gets quiet and finally adds, “I guess it may be a little bit more than having a love for you.”
“What is it then?”
He shrugs, “Shit. Ionno.”
He doesn’t want to talk about it anymore but I know that this is the furthest we ever have gotten so I continue to push slowly.
“Well you should figure it out,” I state.
Malone is angry. Angry to the point that he is screaming. He feels awkward about it and I was planning on making it more awkward. I lean in. I kiss him. I kiss him straight on the lips.
“I’m a father…”
We both knew that before all of the things we’d been through together. He knew he was straight and married before he left his wife to come to pick me up. He knew that before he punched a guy for me. He knew what he was before he flirted CONSTANTLY with me.
“This can’t happen,” he states, “Whatever you think you want. Whatever I may—-think I want…we both know the truth. This can’t happen. So let’s just stop pretending as it will.”
“Drop me off at my Aunt’s and Uncle’s…”
“Are you crazy? The same people that treat you like shit all the time. Hell no. You staying with me until I get that place for you and…”
“Stop,” I state.
He looks over at me, “I’m never going to let anything happen to you.”
“That’s not your job. You’re straight right. You’re married. You’re a father. Go be there for your wife and kids. I’ll be alone.”
“Yo why you tripping!” He pulls the car over.
“I want you to make a decision.”
“What we have already is good. Why do we need to make changes?”
“Make a decision…”
I’m crying. I don’t even realize it until I see him get calm for a second only to reach over and hand me a napkin. He’s sweet like that. In the midst of an argument, he’s still worried about me. Maybe it’s wrong for me to be pushy but at this point, I don’t have a choice. He had attacked Tommy and Uncle Tommy wasn’t going to let it go. If I didn’t let him go now my Uncle Tommy would be able to track him down and have him arrested for the attack.
This was more about him than me.
“Why does it sound like I’ll never hear from you again?”
Whatever this was it had to end. And I meant it this time. It was unhealthy. It wasn’t going anywhere. And it was causing problems with my family. And the only people I had in my life were my family at this point. Clearly, I didn’t have Malone. I didn’t have him in the way I wanted.
So it was time to let him go…for good.
It was time to let him go…forever.
“Because you won’t.”
Before this, I cried but now as I’m sitting there I feel my heart break. And I start weeping. And somewhere in the wild weeping, he manages to take me home. I manage to open the door. I want to turn to him and tell him goodbye forever. But I don’t get the chance. I don’t get the change to tell him goodbye one last time because I’m not the only one weeping…