kitchen-4Alfreda kissed him more in the van. She couldn’t help herself, she said. It started at the first red light and picked up at every red light until Bill finally asked her why she didn’t just pull over and park for a moment.

“Don’t have to ask me twice,” she said, and that said, she quickly drove into Whitehall, the borough outside Columbus where Steakhouse East was situated. She knew of, and didn’t have to find, a small park where she could drive around to an isolated side street at the back of the park.

“Every now and then I come here to get high,” she said. She smiled. “I got a joint, if you want.”

They sat and smoked the joint, windows open on both sides. Alfreda pressed Bill about Henry Lee and Marie. Bill continued to deny knowing anything, but of course he knew and the more she pressed the weaker his denials seemed. When it got awkward, she stopped, but not until she reiterated that she knew for sure and would certainly get even.

Finished smoking, the tiny roach tossed out the window by Bill, Alfreda slid herself over the console in the middle and onto Bill’s lap.

“Been waiting a long time for this.”

“Not me.”

“Don’t you like me?”

“Course I do.”


“But you’re Henry Lee’s wife.”

“And the mother of his kids. And we have a good marriage except he fools around all the time. He always fooled around. So don’t worry. You won’t be my first and probably won’t be my last.”

“It’s just weird.”

“Shut up and kiss me.”

They sat for about twenty minutes kissing and fondling, easily steaming up the windows of the van which they had closed because it was  bordering on winter-cold   outside. Alfreda ran the engine so the heater would blast. The radio played rock music. Bill was reminded of high school, of the many times on lover’s lane making out with his girlfriend. They would go into the back seat of her car and steam up the windows. Up and down the lover’s lane strip sat a whole load of cars with steamed up windows.

They would have stayed longer, but the radio blared out the time and when they heard it they both knew they had to get back.

“You know I want a repeat of this,” Alfreda said.

“Yeah. That’s the problem.”

“Ain’t no problem, baby.”

“I got some good weed over in my locker. I’ll give you a joint before you leave.”

“Good. Me and your butcher friend’ll smoke it after the kids get off to sleep. Maybe he’ll get lucky.”

“How’d he lose his leg?”

“Long story.”

“Give me the short version.”

“White dude thought he was looking at a white girl, picked a fight, drew a knife.”

“I hope he got arrested.”

Freda had pulled the truck from the curb and was headed back to Delta Road, the main drag Steakhouse East was on. She took her eyes off the road and looked at Bill, a long, serious look.

“What world you live in?” She guffawed. “Oh, almost forgot, you live in the white world. It’s a different place from where we live.”

“Watch the road, Freda. Tell me the rest of it.”

“He lost his leg. The white guy damn near died cause Henry Lee stuck him in the gut. The cops found them both outside, in the alley—you know how Columbus is set up with the series of back alleys—in the cold. Henry Lee got charged. There were witnesses. The blacks said the other guy started it and drew his knife first. The whites lied, said it was the other way around. Henry Lee got the false leg and five to seven in the Penn. He got out on parole after three. White guy skated. What else is new?”

“I’m really sorry,” Bill said.

“Yeah, me too,” Freda said as she turned from the street into the restaurant’s parking lot.

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