Chapter 10: Mutually Assured Weirdness
“We’re all a little weird. And life is a little weird. And we find someone whose weirdness is compatible with ours, we join up with them and fall into mutually satisfying weirdness—-and call it love—-true love.”
“Ellington, would you mind giving me and Diamonte some time?”
Diamonte has not died. He’d come real close though.
I walk into the room. Diamonte is looking over at some kids play in a private hospital suite. He doesn’t look good. He has this faded look to him. The look of a man dying. The look of someone who hasn’t quite been able to figure out what is happening to him. He’s scared and confused. He needs a friend.
And he’s got one.
“God that boy is fine,” Diamonte states.
He’s looking at Ellington walk out. We both look at Ellington. Perfect body, perfect face and dumb as a fucking rock. The perfect eye candy but because he was so simple he made one of the best assistants. And I had to admit. That muscular ass of his hugs his pants in a way that makes it seem like he’s wearing latex. It’s perfect really. He has this skin-tight black shirt on that is kind of inappropriate as it even shows off those perky nipples.
“He’s a good assistant.”
“I was actually talking about your boyfriend,” He states, “You know Malone? He’s in the cover shot. An announcement that he will be my muse.”
He shows me the picture. It’s Malone looking like a god.
“He looks larger than life.”
“He’ll be a star after this.”
“The entire world will be looking at him walk,” I state.
What I wouldn’t give to walk down a stage and have the entire room looking at me. It’s simple. It’s beautiful but it is a lifestyle. I look at how one picture can make a man who has so many complicated things in his life be beautiful.
Just for one minute. Pure innocent. Truth.
Stuck in time.
That’s what a model was.
“Since there won’t be a marriage any longer we need a new theme. We will call this our Tatum St. Claire Memorial after the fallen model.”
Tatum St. Claire. It was different for B&R to be celebrating a model. Even one as talented as Tatum St. Claire.
“His story is going viral. Everyone’s talking about him.”
“He was the most beautiful man in the world.”
“He died driving off a cliff?” I ask, “Tragic.”
The story was romantic. Some beautiful gay boy drives off a cliff with his boyfriend because they were running from the law. It wasn’t new but everyone was talking about it anyway. Maybe it was Tatum himself that was able to stir the entire fashion world in emotion. I wished I was that beautiful. That perfect. Tatum was the type to walk in a room and demand attention. I walked in the room and no one cared. Everyone cared about my pieces. No one cared about Troy. Something beautiful who wears something beautiful and makes people feel happy. Really happy. I can leave him here for you if you want…”
“I’m fine. Get rid of the pretty boy though. It was nice while it lasted but take those problems out of your life.”
“He’s a good assistant.”
“Who wants to fuck you. And you know it,” Diamonte states, “So stop playing these games,” Diamonte says, “You keep him around because of these games you’re playing with Malone.”
Malone. I can’t get my mind off of him. He probably knows it too. He has that kind of power over me and it sucks. He’s kind. He’s smart. He’s strong. He’s sexy as all hell. He had everything I wanted and he worshiped the ground I walked on. Why was it that we couldn’t figure this out? Why was it that we just couldn’t be happy?
“I should have listened to you about him.”
“That wasn’t me warning you about him. That was Patience. I actually like Malone,” he explains to me slowly.
“He’s sleeping with his ex…”
“He’s being manipulated,” Diamonte explains, “Start thinking clearly, Troy. Patience Crane has invested a lot of money in your future. It was never about me. She could care less about me. She invested in you.”
I pause for a moment. Hearing Diamonte admits this isn’t surprising. I figured it was. When Patience Crane got involved with B&R it was quite odd. Most of the big wigs in Fashion were known. It was very odd that this woman, out of nowhere, who seems to have all this money and pull would get involved in it. And her interest was always with me. Always.
“She’s planning something, Diamonte,” I state.
“Get rid of her…” I beg him.
Something about her made me nervous. Let alone all these messages I’ve been getting from Malone warning me not to trust her.
“Wish I could. I can’t,” he explains, “She has all the board members wrapped around her fingers. I should have seen it coming.”
“What does she want?”
“I don’t know,” he explains, “But keep an eye on her while I’m sick. And if anything happens to me…
“Don’t say that.”
“I have to,” he explains, “If anything happens to me, it is going to be necessary you save B&R…”
“This isn’t my company.”
“If something happens to me, I’m making you the lead designer,” he explains.
I’m shocked. My mouth drops open. There are people who would live their entire lives in fashion and never be able to be the lead designer or any designer for a major fashion company. Knowing that he was going to give me this title was amazing.
“You have an eye. A powerful eye. Fashion needs you. B&R needs you. Don’t let this fucking woman manipulate my vision.”
“I’ll think about it. That’s not my thing.”
“What is your thing?”
“You would laugh.”
“Modeling. I want to be a model.”
There is laughter. Not the cruel kind of laughter. He probably doesn’t mean to be rude and even if he did its most likely the drugs they have him on. I’d gotten to know a lot about Diamonte in the time learning from him. I saw how he put up his guard. At this moment, in these few moments, there were, when he laughed he truly was amused.
“You’re handsome don’t get me wrong, but you have so much more going on then being another good looking guy,” he explains to me, “Let your boyfriend handle it.”
I turn away. I don’t want to seem hurt but I am. It’s crazy when everyone laughs at your dreams. It’s crazy. It’s like a mad world really. I want to do one thing but everyone is telling me that I need to do something else.
“I see…” I state, “Doesn’t matter. I’m not a model. And I’m not with Malone.”
“: You didn’t break up.”
“No. Not officially,” I state, “But I’m thinking about going to his son’s birthday party and doing it there. In the car of course. I don’t plan on going in.”
“You’re making a mistake,” he explains to me.
“He’s human,” he explains, “Go talk to him.”
“Since when are you Malone’s fan?” I ask.
“Since I got HIV and realized life is too short,” he states, “STOP doing this with the ones you love.”
“You’re telling me this while you’re doing it to Asher.”
He is great with advice. Great until it comes to his own life. The mere mention of Asher causes Diamonte to fold up. I know that Asher and Malone have gotten close. They go out almost every day and play basketball together. Of course, it’s good for Malone. Asher is a more seasoned model and he’d be able to show Malone the ropes. Malone was young and beautiful in a city that ate everything young and beautiful.
“Asher is going to be at the party if you wanted to come…”
“DON” T!” He screams getting up, “FUCKING DON’T! I’M SICK! I’M DYING. I CAN’T BE WITH THE ONE I LOVE. THE MOST I CAN DO IS LET ASHER LIVE HIS LIFE WITHOUT ME! YOU THINK I WANT TO BE WITHOUT HIM?”
“Of course not.”
“EVERYDAY I’M TAKING THESE FUCKING PILLS. THEY WON’T DO SHIT!”
He’s crying. It breaks my heart. It breaks my heart knowing he’s going around leaving Asher in the dust. Supposedly Asher isn’t even allowed in the fucking building.
He shows me his container of pills throwing it on the floor. A ton of pills is scattered everywhere. He begins to cry. I walk over to him. Most people wouldn’t. They’d be too scared to touch Diamonte. I knew Diamonte. He wasn’t nearly as tough as he let out. Matter of fact it was the opposite. He’s the most sensitive person in the world.
Why else would he care so much about what happens with me and Malone?
“I”m sorry. I’m sorry about bringing up Asher.”
“Promise not to tell him.”
This thing with Asher was really difficult. It put me and Malone in a weird position. Malone’s loyalty was to Asher. Mines was with Diamonte. But Diamonte was keeping this huge secret from Asher. One that everyone seemed to know except for Asher.”
“I promise. Forgive me.”
“You aren’t the one who needs forgiveness. Malone is. You need to be human as well. You’ll forgive him.”
“No. I won’t.”
“You’ll forgive him and you just don’t know it yet,” he states, “You’ll forgive him because you love him. You’ll remember you love him when you look in his eyes. You’ll look in his eyes when you see him. You are only talking tough because you haven’t seen him.”
I roll my eyes. Every part of me doesn’t want to believe him. I should be pissed at Malone. He was nothing more than a dick. Nothing more. If he wasn’t fuckin around with Wylie then who was it? Deja? He was just a playboy guy who was confused with his sexuality.
“Worry about yourself, not me. I need you to survive this.”
“Of course I will. HIV is nothing more than a tardy bitch showing up at the party wearing kitten heels and plaid.”
“You’ve dealt with them before.”
Diamonte Rose laughs a little bit. The look on his eyes pressed with ease. He doesn’t say but I’d overheard him talking to his assistants. He just wanted to go down the right way. That’s what he told them. He didn’t want to be a statistic. Make up a lie. Do whatever it takes. Don’t tell them he’s dying of HIV.
Don’t tell them that the person that created all this greatness. The person they gawked at, the person they admired and the person they feared was being reduced to this thing that he was becoming.
I’ll keep your secret, Diamonte.
No one will know.
The party is something that I don’t have time for. I need to get back to work. I need to make my finale outfit and I haven’t even started. The stress was really getting to me. I meant really. Like it was getting in my head really. But I came for a reason. A clear reason. one that I wasn’t going to give up.
“Your Uncle is calling you.”
It’s Ellington who is talking.
My uncle. Again. Like every member of my family. They were looking for handouts. All of a sudden it seemed like no one could work. All of a sudden it seemed like I was becoming the fucking sole provider for all these grown men and women in my family. I knew I was related to assholes. What I didn’t know though was I was dating one.
I text him to meet me outside. He comes to the door. I have to admit that Malone looked fine as fuck. He has on these sweatpants. And that was all that was necessary to say. He wasn’t the tight jean type of guy like Ellington. He was lowkey. He was an around-the-clock kind of dude.
And he waves over at me, biting his lips and adjusting the front side of his sweatpants. His huge dick is hiding underneath there and it makes my mouth water.
I look over at him. He’s calling out to me and it’s embarrassing. The neighborhood is kind of quiet. No one is out. And he’s loud. Real loud. And real aggressive. He has the whole Daddy thing going on. Well more like Zaddy if you think about that third leg that keeps waving at me as well.
“Don’t do it.”
I was about to step out the backseat of my car when I hear Ellington in the front seat. He acts as my driver.
“Did you say something, Ellington?”
“You know he did it right?” Ellington asks.
“He did it,” Ellington states, “I saw him. I overheard him on the phone flirting with his baby’s mother. They looked like they were trying to meet up and have sex…”
“You were spying on my boyfriend?”
“He isn’t good enough for you,” Ellington explains
“Ellington who hired you?”
“No, I didn’t. Who hired you?”
“A third party staffing company. Triangle Staffing.”
“Yes. Triangle staffing,” I explain, “So Ellington did Triangle Staffing tell you that you should be spying on my boyfriend?”
“Good. Get my door and help bring in the birthday gifts.”
Ellington apologizes profusely. He was good at his job but I had to admit sometimes he did act weird. Ok, maybe I wasn’t an idiot when it came to Ellington. The truth was that he did bother Malone and I kept him around because I knew he bothered Malone. Why was it that I was the one who was always jealous. My boyfriend was a model. Meaning he walked around all day in underwear or naked while people gawked at him. People thought he was beautiful.
What I wouldn’t give to be looked at the way that people look at Malone?
“You OK?” Ellington asks.
“You’re more than fine,” Ellington states opening the door for me.
He smiles. He is flirting. He likes me. Finally, there is one person in the world who wanted to be with me and didn’t want to be with my fucking boyfriend.
We walk up to the door and Ellington clearly gets under Malone’s skin the moment he sees him. Malone’s forehead wrinkles up a little bit. His eyes lower to Ellington’s feet and then to the bags that he has in his hands. Maybe that’s the reason he doesn’t tell my assistant to fuck off. Or maybe he wants to stay in my good graces. Either way, after a second or two of seemingly figuring out his reaction to seeing me, he settles on one.
It ends up being a squint.
“I’ve been calling you.”
“Come here,” he states.
“I said come here.”
He grabs me up. It’s in the most masculine way in the world. Sometimes he made me feel like some girl around the way. I imagined what it would have been like to be a girl and be with Malone. It would have been easier. I can tell. When he grabs me up by my ass and pulls me into him I can’t even struggle. He’s too strong. He holds me close pressing his lips up against my neck. I try not to get turned on. It doesn’t work and he notices. As he’s pressed up against me it’s very clear there is a huge difference between me and his old girlfriends. And that difference is getting bigger…and harder.
“I’m not here for that,” I state, “I”m actually here for the opposite. I’m actually here to say…”
“Wait. Before you respond.”
“I stopped selling weed,” he states.
“Why did you make that choice?” I ask.
He hadn’t been selling a lot. Not like he did before. He had already slowed down. But this was him basically telling me he was done with the streets altogether. This caught my attention. I was dating a street guy.
He shrugs, “When we got together, I was lost. I didn’t have a thing. That’s the good thing about you. You always knew what you wanted to do. And it helped me. It helped me realize that I too, want to be a model. And it’s working out for me. Did you see my spread.”
He is a little self-centered, telling the person who wants to be a model of how happy he was that he was a model. I try not to be selfish though. This wasn’t about me.
“I”m glad you made that choice.”
“Come in, please. She knows. She’s OK with it.”
“She’s OK with it?”
I was confused.
“Yeah. I was confused too. But I want you here with me,” He states, “All my family is here. My mother, my grandparents. All of them are here for Jr.’s birthday. And I want the love of my life here too.”
“Love of your life?”
Oh, he was trying, TRYING. He reaches over and extends his hand. It’s the boldest thing he’s ever done in his world. These weren’t strangers. These weren’t even friends. This was his family. I knew the majority of them knew I existed. Word had spread fast. But no one had seen us together in his family.
Not until now.
“Good. Me too. We’re stronger together,” he states, “Take my hand please.”
“Sir we have a lot of stuff we had to do,” Ellington reminds me.
I stand there. He was right. Maybe he had his own reasons for jumping into my conversation but he was right. I did have a lot of stuff to do. Still…
“Please come in. Just for a minute. Jr. made you something. Something special…” he states, “It’ll mean everything if you are there.”
“I don’t belong with your family.”
“You belong everywhere I am.”
It’s amazing that he says something so sweet. That wasn’t his thing. He was a realist. He was looking at me now and I know this wasn’t a pleasantry. That wasn’t Malone’s thing.
“I’m not fucking perfect,” he states, “I did NOT have sex with Deja. I would never have had sex with Deja.”
“Then what is she talking about?”
“We talked about having kids before we broke up. We had difficulties and so we weren’t even having sex before we broke up. I’d stopped because she wanted to wait for certain times. Do you know how that is? Don’t you?”
“Not really. Not like we can have kids together.”
“I didn’t know you wanted kids.”
“Well, I guess me and Deja had something in common,” I state.
“We’ll have some. Together.”
“You would do that?”
“I’d do anything to be with you.”
I shouldn’t do this. I should walk away? Right? But I don’t. I give him my hand. I give my hand because he’s not perfect. He is a little too aggressive, he’s too from the hood, he’s still so ignorant about the fashion industry and he’s cheap. God, Malone is cheap as all fuck. But all those bad things about him don’t make up for the good. He’s a great father, he’s caring, he’s talkative, he’s protective and most of all he’s supportive.
So I take his hand.
And he leads me into the house. The house is booming with people. More people than I expected. The kids are all outside but the parents are inside. They are just watching. They are just looking. Not saying a fucking thing.
“I made the potato salad with—–” Deja stops full in her words.
The silence in the room is piercing. He said he had a conversation with Deja and she was OK with it but right now at this moment she is quiet. Real Quiet. It’s better than I expect. I expect her to attack me. I expect from her brother.
It’s so awkward though. People are looking at me like I’ve never experienced before. It’s not because they were just now appreciating this quiet kid they’ve never noticed before. This wasn’t about that.
They looked confused.
Like they didn’t know why I was here.
“Son, the kids are outside. This is not the time to have your friend…”
This woman walks up. I know it’s his mother because I’ve seen her so many times around the neighborhood. She never spoke even though she knew who I was. No one on his side of his family ever spoke to me when they saw me out. Not his mother or his stepfather Bobby who is drinking a beer with Jermaine, Deja’s crazy thug brother. The brother looks scary as fuck. He has this real hardcore fucking thing about him. Never seen anything like it. He looked freaky.
“Yo—-this is disrespecting my sister,” Jermaine states, “Malone, you know I can’t abide by this.”
“You don’t gotta abide by anything. Do what you got to do, but you not scaring us off,” Malone states.
I look over at him. That’s what I love about him. He was fearless. Standing there as though he wasn’t scared of anything. I’d heard stories about this guy Jermaine. I mean looking at him the guy walked around in a wife beater, with jeans hanging underneath his ass, smelling like dank with blackwoods behind his ear. He spoke with a crushing thug accent that would make the normal guy run and hide somewhere.
He was definitely not the kind of guy to be fucked with. But then I see Malone, looking right in his face. Malone was a handsome guy too, a pretty boy. The kind of guy who shouldn’t be putting his face at risk. Of course, he didn’t get the memo that his face was his money.
And luckily it works out this time.
“Jermaine stop,” Deja interrupts.
I’m shocked Deja is stopping Jermaine and so is Jermaine. Jermaine gets up. He looks pissed.
“DEJA ARE YOU KIDDING?” he asks.
“Mind your business.”
Jermaine is pissed. Beyond pissed. I watch as he walks off slamming thing and damn near throwing things on his way out. He looks completely shocked at that moment.
Deja goes to follow after her brother. She wants to calm him down. Hopefully, she is going to stop him from getting his gat and making short work of me and Malone possibly.
“We need to talk,” one of the guys walking up says.
I don’t know who the guy is. He’s not talking to me. He’s talking to Malone. I didn’t know what it was until I see the other guys walking to Malone as well.
“I just need to talk to my uncles real quick,” he states, “Can you go outside?”
Malone looks worried. The kind of worried look you give when something is personal. Really personal. He’s putting on a tough face but I know that Malone rather be in a shootout then having a conversation with his uncles about bringing his new boyfriend to his son’s party. I walk away from the man-to-man conversation they are about to have. I assume it’s going to be one of the most unpleasant things I know and I can just say that from my own experience.
I go outside and Jr. is sitting there.
He runs to hug me. We’re talking. The normal kid stuff.
I see shadows of Malone and his uncles. They have taken it to the front area to the streets. There are times where I think they are going to fight, but that’s not what’s happening.
“I drew you a picture,” Jr. says.
“Yeah. That’s you and me. Best friends,” Jr. states.
He calls everyone his best friend but I like to pretend that he means it with me. His picks up the picture and shows me what he drew. That’s when I notice something else. Another picture underneath the one he was drawing.
“Who is this?”
I wouldn’t be shocked but it’s the name that Jr. put under there too. He spells it right. He has had time to pretend.
“Your mother’s been working for someone.”
“Yeah, here she comes….”
Sure enough, it’s her. Patience Crane.
She walks up to me.
“What are you doing here?” I ask.
I don’t trust her. I don’t like her.
“Oh I came to congratulate Malone,” she states.”
“For his son’s birthday?”
She shakes her head, “No. Haven’t you heard? Malone is having a baby…”