Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Horoscope Of A Black Male (Chapter 1)

Horoscope Of A Black Male (Single And Trigger Happy)

For some reason, this single chapter, even though slightly tame, is one of my favourites.

Chapter One .
written in February 2011

See I'm a single black male, dark hair, dark eyes,
Long walks through a park and a lot of them lives,
I'm a little bit shaded by a lot of what I see,
So if you're still interested you should come get at me...
-- The Pain, by MURS.

Standing, he reached an impressive six foot. Milk chocolate complexion, and light indented dimples that showed when he barely smiled – and he barely ever smiled. Full lips, soft brown eyes, and two tattoos; one on his bicep, and a complex design across his shoulder blades. Slim, but muscular. Sagittarius.

But despite his striking features, women didn’t warm to Chae any more than he warmed to them. It clearly wasn’t hid looks that repelled them, so he’d come to the conclusion that there was something about his nature that was hugely intimidating – Leila had told him it was his eyes. They’d seen too much brutality, too much cruelty, and when he turned those dark eyes on someone he made shivers run down their spine. Chae had earned the sort of reputation that made the air crackle whenever he walked into a room. But Leila would then kiss both of his eyelids and airily tell him that she was immune to his dark knight shit.

Pulling on his slate-gray coat over his red shirt with a nametag that read ‘Michael’, he moved to stand by the open double doors of Lips Electronics. It had to be the most serene store in the whole mall, which was probably why he liked working there. He watched idle customers peer at the shiny screens of TV’s, or drift by and browse the wares, edgily dodging around Chae when they passed him. His eyes followed them, frowning slightly. Even people who weren’t rough-looking urban kids avoided him or stepped out of his path, and they did it subconsciously. Rough-looking urban kids had a reason – when he was himself a troubled teenager, Chae used to run a vicious crew in the neighbourhood. But ordinary folks, especially women, they simply grew uneasy around him. Maybe he had an unsettling aura. He was often sceptical about that spiritual palaver, but his mother passionately believed in it and he would’ve listened to anything she had to say, no matter how false.

“Chae!” he turned towards the checkout counter to see Nanni’s her wide, innocent eyes fixed on him. Her red shirt, unlike his, was ironed and neatly fixed over her small torso. She looked like a dark-skinned Santa’s Little Elf. “Where are you going? Are you leaving? I thought you were working all day. Don’t leave. I –”

His expression darkened. “Nanni.” was all he said, and the sound of his voice quietened her at once. Her smile was guilty, and that softened him almost instantly. “Motor mouth.”

“Easily excitable.” she insisted, flashing a cute grin.

“I’m just leaving for a few hours.” he told her. Due to the Trap House problem, Chae had no choice but to work all day, every day – but today he had no choice but to make an exception. Chae checked his watch to read 13:50. “Mr Valliday won’t know I’m gone if there’s a constant stream of customers, and if they don’t make it obvious.” He titled his head slightly to their co-workers, who stood in a suspicious little group by the stereo display, watching him curiously. The moment he shot them a dark look, they all jumped and dispersed, grinning sheepishly and hurrying to commit to various tasks. He heard Nanni issued a wicked little chuckle at how effortlessly he exerted control over other people. She loved watching it happen, like watching a puppet show.

“Are you going to help Andre with his interview? Can I come?” she asked conversationally.

“No. Stay here and keep the others in line.”

“Great! I’ll take my break.” she said happily and disappeared into the backroom to get her coat. Chae stared after her, heavily confused as to whether the word ‘no’ really left his mouth, or he simply thought it did and instead said ‘yes’.

He left the store and stepped into a cascade of white. Holliday Mall was one of the most stunning in Louisiana, with a dome ceiling that reached high above the heads of the shoppers, spawning three levels of stores joined by extensive escalators. Outside Lips Electronics waited a mixed-race twenty-year old with a black hood pulled fully over his head and a cap resting on top, rough black jeans worn below the usual position. Chae stared at him, showing his drop-jawed surprise through his eyes.

“Please, oh please tell me you’re not wearing that to the interview.” he said blankly.

Jerking at the sound of his voice, Andre exhaled with relief and approached him. “Well what am I supposed to wear!”

“I told you to borrow one of Bobby’s shirts!”

Andre kissed his teeth and sulked. “Maaan I ain’t borrowing nuthin’ from that donkey.”

Chae closed his eyes and pressed a hand to his face. “This, is why you never get a job.”

“No, I never get a job because I have a criminal record.” Andre corrected. “Which is why it’s important for me to nail this one.”

“If it’s important, act like it is.” Chae shot at him, his voice hard and harsh, “Turn up at the right time, wearing the right thing and with the right documents, instead of dragging me here and wasting my time when I already have a job.”

Andre opened his mouth to retaliate, when it dawned on him that Chae wasn’t the person to argue with when angry. Closing his mouth, he settled for a guilty shrug. “Sooo… we leaving now or what?”

Chae opened his mouth. He paused, glancing back through the shop window of Lips, peering past the TV’s of various sizes. “Nanni. She’s coming.” he told Andre, who gave him a puzzled frown. Nanni burst out of Lips and zipped to stand beside him, knocking her elbow against his.

“Ready? Let’s go!” she thrilled. Chae raised an eyebrow, wondering how the girl could always contain so much energy. As the youngest female entrusted to his care she was always considered the ‘baby’ of the Trap House, and it didn’t help that her youthful face, bright eyes and beaming smile knocked years off her age. Although she was turning seventeen soon, she much preferred to act as if she was seven.

“Did you bring all the legal stuff, Andre? Your passport, bank details…?” she inquired, linking arms with Chae and ignoring his irritated jerk, hanging on even when he tried to unlink their arms. They began to walk past the ground floor shops and out of the mall; the automatic doors pulled open for them, and they turned down to a street of business buildings, such as the offices of lawyers, accountants and the like. Andre stayed silent for a long moment, walking with an imitated carefree swagger that every urban boy knew how to mimic by the time they reached twelve.

“… I’m gonna be one-hundred percent honest…” he said eventually, while Chae’s heart sank. The boy was a lost cause. “…nobody told me I supposed to bring that shit.”

“Andre, Kiara gave you a LIST!” he bellowed.

“I know but – ! I couldn’t read her handwriting!”

Chae and Nanni exchanged glances and said nothing, beginning to think that either Andre didn’t know what the fuck he was doing, or that he wasn’t as confident as he seemed to be and was trying to hide it. It was crucially import for Andre to get this job – if he didn’t, every person living in the Trap House would go into debt. If they got thrown out, there’d be no place for them to go other than Salvation Army or a crack house. Three minutes of walking, and they could already see the Burton and Barker building where Andre’s interview was being held. The position was for a Junior Administrator, and required the fairly basic tasks of photocopying, typing up forms and filing documents. Chae slowed to a halt outside the door, and gestured to it. Andre stared at him. “I thought you were coming in with me!”

He shook his head. “I’m done with you. Just remember everything we went over yesterday, alright? Here, take off your jacket.” Andre took off his hoodie, and Nanni nodded confidently as if affirming that he looked much smarter with just the shirt. “Don’t try to be somebody you’re not because they can see right through that. You don’t have to try and use long words to prove you’re competent.” Chae pursed the corner of his mouth. “Andre… this is really important. Do not fuck it up.” Andre took a breath and nodded disconnectedly. “Go in, you’re already eight minutes late – and good luck.”

“But…. ” Andre struggled, suddenly looking helpless.

Nanni skipped up to him and hugged his torso. “Dre, just always address your interviewer politely, as Mr or Mrs whatever. Don’t drink anything, you’ll need to pee. Don’t eat anything in case your breath smells or in case you get something in your teeth or crumbs on your mouth or whatever. Stay calm, think fast, speak slowly. You do have work experience, so just talk about what you know. Okay?”

Andre issued a pathetic whine and yelped at her, “How am I supposed to remember all that!”

Chae held his hand out for Nanni. “C’mon, kid. He’ll be fine.”

“But I can’t remember the interviewer’s name!” he shouted after them, his hand on the doorknob.

“Then just ask –” Nanni tried to shouted back, when Chae clapped a hand over her mouth and turned her words of advice into muffled noises.

“He needs to learn for himself, Nanni. We can only help him so much.” he told her softly, placing an arm around her shoulders and hugging them. She slowly nodded, and leaned her head against his upper arm.

“Can we go for a milkshake?”

Chae’s instant response was to say ‘no’, as they had work to be getting back to and getting paid was no joke. Getting paid was what him, Nanni, Andre, and everybody at the Trap House lived for. Getting paid was not an option if their manager found out they weren’t working.

“… sure.” Chae said tiredly, and with his arm still around her shoulder, steered their walk back towards the mall.

Peace and Love,
Star xx


  1. Where is the second chapter? Lol!

  2. HA ! That's a damn good question. It's still In-The-Making, as it has been since your birthday last year. Lawdy.
    Star xx


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