short stories

Musings, Mishaps, & Mysteries: One.

People just like to share all their business. Just put it all out there for the world to judge ’em and misuse it. You won’t know half of the shit that’s barked in my backyard. But Sissy for example, that fool up and told everybody that she woulda killed that damn executive herself!

Now such things are often considered harmless. Until they’re used in a court of law against you.

Don’t go getting riled up! She’s fine. She’s probably in that big old house down the street right now arguing her people down about putting her in a nursing home and having people do the things she learned to do at two years old for twice the cost of living. I’m just saying, sensible people should say sensible things. I warned her about that loose mouth of hers across a tray of cupcakes.

“Oh, hush you nag.” She said. She’s a huffy bitch, coming in my house calling me names…

I admit, one thing everybody knows about me is how well I make my cupcakes. They’re special cupcakes, but not everybody gets to have them. I guess that’s one of the things that makes ’em special. German chocolate, lemon merengue, red velvet. I pick a different one for the weekly community black womens’ meetings I host.

Community black women’s meetings yes. It’s like a sorority, book club thing Eddie suggested. I think he just wanted an out: if I schedule discussion time with other like minded individuals, he wouldn’t have to hear my rants himself as he’s watering things and moseying about.

I think he’d be especially grateful he didn’t have to hear about Miss Leona. See, Leona had a temper much like Sissy’s. Difference, Sissy married rich and ran her husband into the ground. Miss Leona was a hard working women who just got fed up. Now she’s known as the “angry black woman”, and no young black man really likes that let alone a young, friendly white fellow.

“Leona Miles indicted for Murder.” Chris, short for Christine, read the headline through the lenses sitting low on the bridge of her nose the way old ladies tend to do.

Louise, ever the dramatic one, sucked her breathe in real sharp, and I continued stirring my Earl Grey.

“A shame.” Chris followed. Meanwhile, Sissy stamped her foot. Unsurprisingly she had read the article earlier that morning and had formed a rigid opinion on the matter, breathlessly awaiting the moment she’d get tuned up.

“Do you even know what that man did?” Sissy was livid. Louise, simpered from behind a cupcake wrapper. Sissy leaned in and began to taunt her.

“Have you ever had someone get so far into your skin, I mean say something so offending that you wanted to lean in close and stick a knife in his jugular? I mean, really just…just…”

“Nuke him?” I added drily. “Yes, I’m sure everyone here -but Louise- has had that experience, but somehow none are so animated as you.”

Sissy remained unoffended. Instead, her body straightened. Peacock-like. “It’s because I knew him.” It was meant to be a shocker.

“What CEO in Northern Atlanta haven’t you met?” I like Chris. She has kind of a dry personality, but in a way she only says what’s absolutely necessary. Or amusing.

“Richard Anderson.”

I tuned them out for a while to allow them the opportunity to digress which was expected of each meeting. I caught the obligatory reference to Delta, Sissy’s favorite word, and “What a shame” intermingled with sighs.

Then Louise quietly brought us back after she had skimmed over the article. Poor dear, the assisted living community drained her expenses until she couldn’t afford a daily paper at her door. Maybe it’s God’s sinister timing because no more than ten minutes after Sissy and Chris had drifted off, she brought us back with her curiosity.

“I don’t get why she was so angry.”Sissy turned, aggravated at the interruption, and then infuriated at the suggestion. This is the point where Chris sends a larger percentage of her attention to her saucer and cup.

“Then I guess I have to reassert the serious nature of this gentleman’s crime. This CEO, this Chief Executive Officer worked with this intelligent, overworked, under appreciated black woman, and his black ass did nothing but disrespect her.”

Now disrespect here is an interesting word. It has many shades. Most people without realizing it pick a shade to associate with disrespect. A obscure, slate grey that is even confused with blackness itself for those who see it as something sharp and pronounced like racism. A cool, lackluster grey for those who see it in bad little kids, and bourgeoisie rich people. Sissy and I see it as a bright, silver grey that exists in everyone, even the friendliest and most beautiful; in the person with the kindest smile but the harshest thoughts. Such was this CEO.

According to my own research Leona worked with the man for thirty five years and worked under for three. That in itself is a problem. It’s one thing to one to work for an asshole, it’s another for the asshole to get promoted.

“By disrespect did you mean how she recalls he, ‘Complained little to her face but was heard expressing his distaste for her unprofessionally positive demeanor at board meetings.’ And how she says he once joked to her male peers that her mother, ‘Didn’t teach her to let a man open the door.'”

Ding. Ding ding. I almost spit my tea up at Louise’s distressed expression. She really hadn’t a clue.

“The chauvinistic pig!” Sissy exclaimed.

Chris finally found something of interest. “That reminds me of when my ex-fiance told me I “talked well for a black woman. I corrected his ass quick. ‘It’s spoke, not talked’.” She mocked herself with a smirk and then mimicked brushing him off.

I calmly explained to Louise that the victim was the kind of man who looked down his nose at women of any level of distinction. He gave all his fraternity brothers preference over established, experienced professionals such as Leona. When he did reluctantly have to offer a higher level position to Leona he changed her original title so that he could justify paying her less. And on more than one occasion he shared chauvinistic comments in a completely inappropriate fashion while behaving passive aggressively toward her in private settings.

Louise reread the final paragraph. ” ‘Leona confessed to going insane with hatred for her former boss. She admitted to the authorities last saturday that she had in fact blacked out with anger while discussing her progress on a construction project that was outside the realm of her role. He shuffled through his mail with disinterest inducing her to grab his envelope opener and jab it into his throat.’ Do you ladies truly believe the means justified the end?”

“Heck yeah.”

“I would have plotted his coup d’etat,” Chris said.

Louise just shook her head.

Notice none of the ladies mentioned quitting. We black women don’t quit. Or at least we know that at the end of the day a job has to be done and no man is going to mess up our money. Or at least not the reputation we have for being strong black women. Which is what sometimes makes us crazy.

After a moment of pause all the women looked at me. They like watching me last like I’ve got the map to a goldmine or something. But I’m unremarkable, really. I just have a kind old lady face with a mean streak. So I just said:

“I would have killed him myself, except I don’t like anybody in my business.”

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