My white laundry cart was jammed packed with three weeks of dirty clothing last Sunday. Fortunately for me, the kids were spending the weekend with B. and me and they fought over whose turn it was to push the cart down Bedford Avenue to Metrosuds Laundromat.
“Can we help, Chals,” is what they always ask, whether I’m in the kitchen making a fresh pie pastry from scratch or running the vacuum cleaner—they are always so eager to be of assistance.
“Watch for traffic,” I shout as they round the corner of DeKalb Avenue, pushing the cart fast, like bag ladies high on crack.
Lucky, the older of B.’s little brothers is sixteen now. He has started to piece together the dynamics of the six year relationship I have maintained with their older brother. After all these years, I believed they knew we were more than just “roommates”. I always do laundry for both myself and B. Roommates don’t wash each other’s clothing. Even kids know that. Besides, we took down the futon in “B.’s Room” and replaced it with a pool table years ago. Surely they do not believe that B. sleeps on the sofa every night. Perhaps they do. “Hey Charles. That blonde girl is checking you out,” Lucky informed as I was busy shoving a ton of dirty dark clothes into the Triple Queen washer.
“The girl reading the book.”
“That’s not blonde hair,” I explain to Lucky. “She’s a red head.”
Then Arden spoke up—“Yeah Chals. You better go talk to her or people might think you is gay or something.”
I quickly started placing Tide detergent into the compartment at the top of the machine, pretending I did not hear what Arden had just said.
“You must be joking,” I said to lucky. “I could be that girl’s father.”
“But she’s checkin’ you out, Chals. I’m tellin’ you man, she likes you.”
“She’s not my type.”
“Ask her if you can have some of her sheets,” Lucky suggested, referring to the Bounce dryer sheets that were sitting on a table near the girl.
I was furious. Where do children learn such hatred at such a young age?
Then Arden pushed the subject further—“She’s still checkin’ you out, Chals.”
“You wanna know something? Girls check me out like that all the time. I can’t help it I’m so good looking. Now go away. I’m too old for that girl. She probably thinks I’m your father or something.”
They knew I was right. They are light-skinned black kids with a touch of Cuban blood in their veins. They are like Barrack Obama—not full fledged blacks, but touches of Caucasian and latino taint their genes.
After I placed the wet clothes into five dryers, I suggested that we head to the deli. Lucky wanted a hero sandwich and Arden a beef patty. As has been the case for the last six years, I always pay for whatever they want from the deli. They have no father. No figure. He died recently.
As we waited for Arden’s beef patty to come out of the microwave, a Dominican girl squeezed past me and the deli counter. I accidentally looked at her ass. Lucky started laughing—“Hey, I saw that Chals.”
I hoped they wouldn’t tell their brother B.