first half of somethin' I've been working on since like forever:
“Let’s see. What is it this time? The chairs? Let me guess, there are exactly twenty-four chairs in this restaurant.”
Jeremy felt the waves of Kende’s deep voice bouncing off the brown hairs on his arms. He shot Kende a cold glance and took a deep breath before responding.
“There are thirty. Seven are currently being used. It would be eight if you had arrived twenty-seven minutes ago as we scheduled,” Jeremy replied with cold and meticulous precision.
Jeremy despised feeling that his time was being wasted. He selected Negril, the Caribbean restaurant in the couple’s East Oakland neighborhood, to serve as a neutral meeting ground. But Kende’s tardiness was already working his nerves and Jeremy struggled to keep his calm.
“Apologies my love,” Kende said with a forgivable smile. Negril’s gentle lighting perfectly complimented his dark chocolate skin. He kissed his partner on the cheek and took his seat.
Kende could have told Jeremy of the accident on the I-80 and how he had been driving in one-lane rush hour traffic for nearly two hours, but he knew his love all too well. Jeremy thought it foolish that Kende even drove into the city for work and had no sympathy for his daily traffic woes.
“How was your day, sweetheart?” Kende asked, loosening up his tie with his right hand and caressing Jeremy’s fist with his left. He knew that if they were going to move past this tension he would have to be the one to make the effort.
Jeremy paused, took a sip of water and stared at the happy couple seated behind their table, wondering if he and Kende would ever feel that joy again.
“It went well, Kende,” Jeremy responded coldly and took a deep breath before asking, “so, are we going to act as if yesterday didn’t happen?”
Kende knew it was only a matter of time before Jeremy brought it up. He crossed his hands and forced a relaxed smile, eager to find them in steady waters once again.
“We’ve spoken about opening up our relationship before, Jer. I still don’t understand why you blew up,” Kende casually replied, halfway focused on flagging down the waiter to order a glass of white wine.
“But never before have you posed it as an ultimatum,” Jeremy urged, and his voice cracked a little; a drop of vulnerability could be found in there, somewhere.
Silence fell over the table. The waiter brought out two dishes of spicy curry rice, a platter of jerk chicken and a thing of plantains. As Jeremy readied himself, Kende went in for first and emptied out nearly all of the plantains from the bowl.
“And you’re so inconsiderate too!” Jeremy fumed. “You have me wait half an hour and then take all of the food?”
“Eh, you said twenty-seven minutes,” Kende softly chimed in, quickly realizing that humor wasn’t going to help him out of this dilemma.
It was unlike Jeremy to raise his voice, but he needed to let go of this anger. He was determined to finally address his feelings head on. They both dropped their utensils and stared at one another....