“…and all you dudes out there that don’t eat pussy: stop callin’ my phone! I mean it, Los Angeles. I do Pilates three times a week to keep the insides of my thighs tight and smooth. You ain’t never seen a bitch with thighs this velvety smooth. I get a Brazilian wax every two weeks. I douche—hell—my cootie pie is everything but shellacked. From time to time I expect somebody to get on down there and take a gander or two. Shit, take the full tour; check out the décor—I digress. This is Miss Margo and you’re listening to Middle of the Night with Margo. Stay right there because I’ll be right back with the dirty-dirty’s own: Big Brady.”
Margo hit a button, waited for the red light to go out, and removed her headset. She took a Newport from her bag and placed it between full, shiny lips completely conscious of her single-person audience. Once she lit the white stick, Margo put on a short, leather jacket and approached her guest.
“You wanna go outside and have a smoke?” The voice she spoke in was the same one that got her the Middle of the Night gig. She headed to the station’s balcony confident that the rapper was in tow.
Once outside she let the cool air and nicotine high seduce her. The rapper however, was failing miserably.
“Shawty you so thick. Girl, you makin’ ya boy homesick right now, I swear. Ya swagger say New York, but them some southern hips. I’m sayin’ though, why don’t you let me break you off right. I know your man ain’t doin’ it.” He went on like this for four, long minutes. Margo flicked her cigarette over the balcony and grabbed Big Brady by the dick and kissed him hard.
“Back to work,” she said and strolled back inside. She removed her jacket, sat in her chair and put her headset back on.
“Hey L.A.! This is that bitch Margo and I’m back with Big Brady. Say what’s up to L.A., Big B!” The rapper struggled for a hot second putting his headset on.
“What’s up, Cali, it’s ya boy Big Brady, reppin’ that Die for Dollas, you already knowin’. What’s really good?”
After the radio show Margo took Big Brady to a nightclub downtown. Once he realized she wasn’t a groupie, he actually took some time fucking her decently before she left him exhausted in the penthouse suite he’d tried to distract and impress her with.
Times like these Margo wished she had a good, female friend she could call and squeal into the receiver with. Well, that’s how she would’ve felt five years ago, right now, she just wanted to meet Gates for brunch and sip too many mimosas under the pretense that she was having trouble deciding what to eat.
Margo had known Gates since high school and she thought that he probably had some sort of Pretty in Pink crush on her, but she didn’t have time to deal with that, so she drowned out his feelings with witty banter, orange juice, and champagne.
“Big Brady, huh?” Gates said and scooped a piece of cantaloupe into his mouth. Juice drizzled down his mouth and he slurped and licked to catch it—momentarily confusing Margo’s loins. “Was he every bit as eloquent as he seems?”
“Very funny.You shouldn’t even be asking me that—you should have been listening, old man.” Margo grabbed her spoon from her napkin and outstretched her arm to scoop up some of Gates’ cantaloupe. He swatted her hand.
“If you’ll recall—madam—it was you who graduated before me.”
“Shhhh!” Margo hissed from behind her sunglasses and reached, this time successfully, for a piece of cantaloupe.
When Margo elongated her tongue to catch some dribbling juice, Gates leaned in to make the move she’d dreaded since her senior year of college. Right now, though, she appreciated it. Crooked Brady hadn’t kissed her once the night before; he’d concentrated on trying to give her a hickey—it was then that she remembered having read something about a huge bash at the 40/40 in honor of his twenty-first birthday. Gates, however, nearly ten years Brady’s senior, knew all about lips and tongues and chins and juice. Just when he was about to show her what he knew of teeth, she pushed her chair back from the table.
“What was that?” Margo said adjusting her glasses and gulping the last of her current mimosa.
“That was a kiss.” Gates’ cool demeanor as he dabbed the corners of his mouth with the cloth napkin confused Margo’s loins again and she leaned across the table.
She glided on the elliptical with bipolarized emotions, elation being the more prominent of the two. She had a lightness coursing through her that she hadn’t felt since she saw Pharrell Williams, in-person, at fashion week. Butterflies, she supposed. The other feeling was knotted at the base of her stomach and she chose to ignore it by doing an extra forty minutes on the machine, ensuring her exhaustion upon exiting the gym.
On the drive home she thought about her burning legs and took pride in her hard work. Any thoughts about fucking Gates in the restroom of their favorite restaurant were drowned out by turning the car radio up a couple of dials. Margo lay in her bed freshly showered and mumbled “fucking mimosas” before drifting into slumber.
“Okay ya’ll, tonight it’s time for you to give me some advice. Cutty Buddies and Friends with Benefits. The idea behind it seems ingenious: physical monogamy coupled with emotional promiscuity. But what happens if you get some cutty from a lifelong buddy? Is that foul play? Are you guys automatically going together because of the emotional history? Talk to me, City of Angels. Manic Margo needs your help.” Margo lit a cigarette and waited for the phones to start lighting up. She was two inhales in when they did. Her wide range of listeners gave her advice from opposite ends of the spectrum. She shouldn’t fuck a friend if all she wanted was sex. She should fuck a friend because it will be passionate and the relationship will be meaningful. Was Margo ready for a meaningful relationship? She was only twenty—ugh—something.
She didn’t know what she wanted, all she knew was—then her cell phone buzzed. “…I mean, me and my wife have been together for almost thirty years, and we started off as prom dates, Margo. Don’t let fear have you missin’ out on your soulmate.”
“Thank you Dominic, I appreciate that. And thank you Los Angeles for helping me out and keeping me up. You’ve been listening to Middle of the Night with Margo, as if you didn’t already know. Goodnight, L.A.” Margo checked her cell phone—it was a message from Big Brady: I’ll be your cutty buddy baby. She shut the phone off and headed home.
The next week Margo skipped brunch and opted to go get some extra gym time in. She’d been on the elliptical seventeen minutes when her phone rang. Gates. She watched it in a panic—should she pick up or shouldn’t she? Who did he think he was anyway? She missed one lousy brunch in what, eight years? She didn’t owe him anything. But she didn’t text or call to let him know either. She could have been in an accident for all he knew. She could have at least text him. She started to answer and the phone stopped ringing. Missed call. Whatever.
“Probably wasn’t that important,” Margo looked to the left and was unnoticeably startled by the bright white of the teeth smiling at her.
“That’s a pretty pompous assumption to make.” The stranger was too fine and she required a little distraction from all this Gates business.
“Well pardon me. It wasn’t my intention to be pompous.” The chocolate man’s gaze never left Margo’s smooth complexion, her shapely body, or her gorgeous face.
“Now you’re making fun of me? Not too good with first impressions, are you?” She was going to devour him.
Margo felt better on her drive home. Who could have thought that standing sex, in the gym shower, with a stranger, could be so satisfying? Gates had tried several times to reach her but she couldn’t be bothered right then; her life was on the up and up and she needed to take that energy to the studio later on. Instead, she called the only other person she really had to call.
“Are you pregnant?!”
“Sorry baby. Your auntie’s not senile. I dreamt of fish last night and I already called all of your cousins. I didn’t even consider you.”
“Well, you should keep running with that feeling. I’m not the pregnant type, Simone.”
“You a woman ain’t you?”
“Do I have to answer that?”
“Oh, so your tubes are tied.”
“You celibate all of a sudden?”
“Now you know me better than that.”
“Then you’re the type, honey.”
After attempting to convince her aunt of all the reasons she could have been dreaming of fish besides her own prenatal condition, Margo lay down for a nap. However, she received a text that demanded her immediate attention. It was from Gates:
“Are we ever going to talk about what happened?”
“Yes,” she typed and then dozed off.
Gates knew Margo well. Probably better than she thought he did. After receiving her response to his text he decided not to bug her about it. If he did, she would do one of two things: explode or disappear. He had seen it happen with other men. She was always very clear about what she wanted and what she wanted was sex. Still, the men she involved herself with had it in their minds that once they’d rocked her world, she’d want to husband them. Or at least go on a second (or in some cases a first) date. Each one had been wrong.
She was a captivating woman. Physically, she was unmatched by any one he’d ever seen. He actually laughed at himself while thinking of her because she has all of the things most black women he knew tried to tie down, tuck in, or press straight. Not Margo. She wore no makeup. In fact, she fought against the need for it, drinking water in excess, denying anything carbonated or more sugary than necessary, regularly changing her pillowcases. She wore her hair naturally and it cascaded over her shoulders in thick curls. She was as black as the night sky, and as free too. When she spoke it washed over his entire being, and made him want to kiss her to keep from dropping to his knees. He knew now—what had made man after man call her repeatedly despite what it must’ve done to their pride. The moment he received her text he felt that his entire manhood depended on whether or not he could make her is bride.
“Well hello, Los Angeles! It is the Middle of the Night and I am Margo. I’m in a slow jam kind of mood tonight. I’m feelin’ sexy. Ya’ll ever have a night like that? Well pour yourself some wine, I already got mines, and let’s let Maxwell tell us about his ‘Bad Habits.’” Margo pressed the button and removed the earphones once the red light was extinguished. Her head was buzzing.
From the gym to this Gates situation to the spliff she’d smoked on the way to the studio—something had her head swimming. She decided it was the weed and walked to the balcony with a lit cigarette between her fingers. The city was gorgeous during this time of night. Black and free. She leaned over the balcony and imagined flying…
The next morning Margo was sick. She’d been spewing all morning, but she decided to meet Gates for brunch anyway. She might not have been able to eat, but she wasn’t fucking around with any mimosas either.
“Hey kiddo. You look terrible.” Gates thought she looked better than any woman in the room but he wanted to assure her that nothing had changed between them…regardless of how much had.
“Thanks a lot. I’ve been throwing up too, in case you were wondering.” Margo smiled her normal smile and sat in her normal seat, however abnormal she felt. They dined and Gates drank, per usual. Witty banter distracted Margo from her wobbly stomach and allowed Gates to stare at her eyes, lips, cheekbones, flailing hands without interruption. They were back on track, but headed in a new direction. Each of them felt it. Each of them got louder and funnier trying to ignore it.
SondriaWRITES is a working writer who hosts IT’S LIT: A Literary Turn Up every third Thursday of the month at Kaos Network in Leimert Park. The event is a centered around reading and discussing short stories, and other forms of black literature.
She is a co-host on #SNATCHPOWER Radio, a podcast where she analyses literature in a segment called “CLITERATURE.” She has written for Earth Wind and Fire, and her most recent publishings include her collection of short stories: “Boxes and Bottles of Booze: A Series of Therapeutic Fiction,” and “Fight in Heels”—a short story published in the #SNATCHPOWER ZINE, and adapted to film in 2016.
The “FIGHT IN HEELS” audio story can be downloaded at sondriawrites.bandcamp.com.