The Icing On the Cake …

Photo by Shaun Liriano

Your heart is cracked and split at the seams.  The losses you’ve endured, others wouldn’t have been able to survive. You’re resilience is unmatched.

Pride flows out of you like like a crashing winding river. It has unexpected bends and speeds.  It drowns everyone you touch in excellence.  Your stare exudes a longing for progression.

Your touch could melt ice. Your voice is soft but strong.  Your tongue is poetry.

Your hope is infectious.

Your smile makes the brightest star jealous .  It cannot match your luminescence.

You see…

The way you look and the way you feel is just the “icing on the cake.”

By Shaun Liriano

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You’re In Good Hands-Chest Naked In The Park (part 6)

“What the hell are you talking about?”

Tamara’s cousin Courtney was reaming into her.

“Why in God’s name would you borrow $10,000 from your ex-boo’s brother?” Courtney screamed

Tamara was looking over her car insurance policy.  The towing company came to the job to take her car to the auto glass repair shop.  She could have called a cab but it  be was second nature for her to call her older cousin.  Her cousins were good to her.  If she needed anything ever, they were there for her.   They may not be there silently but they would be there.

“It wasn’t $10,000, it was $11,300.  Furthermore, I didn’t borrow it.  He gave it to me,” Tamara said defensively.

“That’s stupid.  You sound stupid.  I’m not saying you are stupid but the words that you just released weren’t intelligent,” Courtney badgered.

Tamara was sitting on her cousins couch watching Courtney as she flailed her arms and attempted to cook dinner for her new fiance.  She dropped everything she was doing to come and get Tamara from work and consequently she burned the steak she was making.  Now she was in the kitchen  attempting to save it and make it edible.  Finally, in utter frustration, she threw the steak and the burnt pan in the trash.  She then began to rummage through her junk drawer for a menu for the local BBQ spot.  Courtney then adjusted her cut off jean shorts, ran her hand over her perfectly shaped up short hair cut, checked out her precisely plucked eyebrows in a tablespoon and then she hugged her cousin lovingly and plopped down on the couch next to Tamara.   She knew Tamara was sensitive and she knew that Tamara had been having a tough time with all the drama with Travis.

“Why did you take the money?” Courtney asked inquisitively.

“Sire knew that I was preparing my demo.  I’ve been wanting to do voiceovers for animated cartoons forever. He believed in me.  He handed over the money. Maybe he felt bad about the way his brother treated me.  I don’t know but I was in no position to deliberate.  My dreams were being handed to me in one check.”

“So now what?” Courtney asked

“Now there’s a hole in my back window because my ex thinks I’m banging his brother,” Tamara said.

“Well …are you?!”  Courtney raised her perfect eyebrow

“Courtney???!!!!” Tamara exclaimed.

“I’m just saying. The boy is sexy. I would do it.”

“No,” Tamara whispered while trying to contain her aggravation.

“It has never crossed your mind?”  Courtney sat straight up in her seat.  She couldn’t contain herself.

“No,” Tamara lied.

Courtney stood up immediately.  “Where’s the justice in the world?  Dudes take a woman to Applebees for a 2 for $20 and they get the drawers but this man gives you $11,300 and he gets no nani points?!  That’s insane!”

Tamara didn’t respond.  There was too much on her mind.

Courtney smiled knowingly.  She knew her cousin well and knew she would never admit to such lustful thoughts.  If anything ever happened with Sire and Tamara, Tamara would take it to her grave and into the afterlife.

“Well I think you should get a new car with a great security system and tints” Courtney shared.

“I don’t have that kind of money right now, Courtney.”

“You never have money.  Might as well be happy.  In fact, if my calculations are correct, don’t you have $11,300?”

Tamara rolled her eyes.

“I’m just saying you manage being broke well.  You pay your bills don’t you? I’d rather you in a new car.  You’re not an Egyptian, Nubian Queen.  No one is going to bury you in your crown with your jewels and your cash laying with your embalmed body,” Courtney then giggled while swirling the ice in her glass.

” The money Sire gave me was for my demo, Courtney.  Realistically, it’s not even a lot of money.  It would be ghetto to put a down payment on a car with $32,000 in student loans.”

“So be ghetto, ”  Courtney said matter of factly.

Courtney was in her element.  She was on her second glass of Wray and Nephews on the rocks.

Courtney had a kick ass approach to life.  Shoot first and ask questions later.  She was beautiful and intensely resilient.  She was a t-shirt and jeans kind of girl but when she stepped it up…she was flawless and breathtaking.  Even women would stop and give her props.  She had a simple and direct way of speaking.  For some reason, whenever she gave advice to Tamara, it stuck.  She was street smart.  Courtney always landed on her feet. If she scraped her knees, she had antiseptic and cocoa butter ready in hand.   Tamara respected her because she was a survivor.

“Courtney, I hear everything loud and clear.  I also know that you are trying to divert my attention away from this problem.”

“What problem?” Courtney replied sincerely.

“Travis.”

Courtney stood up so quickly that some of her drink splashed out of her glass.  She licked what she could salvage from her hand and her arm.

“Oh, oh please.  He aint no problem.  All the family we have in law enforcement? All the criminals I’ve dated????! We have friends in high and low places! I got somethin’ for that ass!”

“No I feel like it will dissipate.”

“I don’t even know what that means,” Courtney laughed.

They both laughed infectiously.  Tamara put her hand out while Courtney poured another glass of “happy juice.”  This time they both indulged.  Tamara put her head back and released a heavy sigh.  She blinked and rolled her eyes to keep from crying.

“Uh oh, you have that possessed look that you get every once in a while.  You’re a little overwhelmed aren’t you, Tamara?”

Tamara didn’t answer.  She just sniffled.

“Keep drinking while I look up your horoscope for today. ”  Astrology was big for Courtney.  She used it as a basis for many things.  She gauged all relationships around zodiac signs.  She believed it gave her insight on how to read people.  Tamara had to admit,  her cousin was good at reading people.  She had an understanding for people’s individual needs.  Courtney pulled out her new phone and she proceeded to read Tamara’s horoscope:

“Cancer, if you’re experiencing uncertainty, a level of your life is about to change.  If you feel like you’re living a TV drama…sit back and enjoy the ride!  Try to relax.  Change is the cousin of success.”

Tamara rolled her eyes again. ” Courtney, isn’t that a little vague?  Those things are so general.”

“No they’re not!!!!”  Courtney retorted defiantly.

“Tamara, you feel uncertain.  You’re worried.  You’re concerned about your future.  I’m not feeling uncertain about anything. In the name of impartiality, I’m being honest.”

Courtney sipped again and then continued.

“You are living a TV drama. It doesn’t get any more cinematic than this baby!  How fitting that the horoscope says, ” sit back and enjoy the ride.” Ride?  A car reference?!  Travis shot through your back window!  That is very specific.  Nothing vague about that.”

The more connections Courtney made, the more excited she became.

“Try to relax, ” Courtney re-capped. “I told you to get a car with security.  If you were secure, you would CONSEQUENTLY…eowwwwwwwww big word…..you would relax!”

Courtney applauded herself.  Spun.  Took a bow and then finally after one long exasperated breath, she fell back into the couch.

“Change is the cousin of success.  Come on Tamara!  I’m your cousin. I’m successful.  If you adhere to some necessary changes, you will win. Orrrrrrrrrr….maybe they mean “change” in a money sense.  You now have new money.  Proper use of it will induce success.!”

“You have to admit it!  That was logical, Tamara!”

Tamara stood up suddenly.  She re-read a small paragraph in the insurance policy.  She pounded her fist into the coffee table and the legs simultaneously broke off.

” HEY!!!! What in the seventh circle of hell????!  Slamming your hand into my table!  That was $22.99 at IKEA, Ms. Karate Kid.  What’s wrong with you, T?”

“I just read a clause that I overlooked  in this insurance policy. ” Tamara then sorted through the papers and looked at her umbrella policy.

“What’s that, T?”

“My umbrella policy.  Additional liability insurance to protect my other assets.”

“So why the alarm? What did my table do to your umbrella policy?”

“I wanted to assess my coverage and my ability to sue if Travis keeps destroying my stuff but there seems to be a tort stipulation in my documentation.” Tamara fought back tears.

“What’s the stipulation?” Courtney asked while nursing her broken table.  She was concerned.  Tamara had a troubled look she had never seen before.  As if she had done something irreversible.  Tamara stood up and rushed to the bathroom nearby.  She crouched over the toilet seat and she unleashed all her anxiety.  She approached Courtney slowly and she wiped the side of her mouth.

“I can’t sue my spouse” Tamara mumbled.

Courtney stood up and handed Tamara the rest of the bottle.

…..to be continued

-By: Shaun Nickens

This One Is For You…

If you’re always almost there

If you fight yourself not to care

If your bark is worse than your bite.

If your heart is under construction indefinitely

If your patience is deliberately tested

If your dues have been paid and you should be vested

If your aggy beyond all aggifyable agginess

If your dreams are too long for the time they are allotted

If you have felt defeated and plotted against

If you have been alone even with company

If your thoughts are sometimes remarkably too heavy and it causes you to hang your head

If you have ever felt like someone is placing boulders on your chest one by one and you are struggling to breathe

If you have ever cried because nothing is wrong and everything isn’t right

If you have ever tried to support a brother and purchased a demo cd that you ain’t like

If you’ve ever lost sleep

If you’ve ever found it difficult to eat

If you’ve ever trusted

If you’ve ever been disgusted

If you’ve ever given the benefit of the doubt

If you’ve ever taken a step back to control what comes out of your mouth

If you’ve ever felt like you could swim the Nile

If you’ve ever wanted to drown yourself in it

If you’ve ever loved

This one is for you…

-Shaun Nickens