Issue 221, Summer 2017
“How many white women you been with?”
The room was filled with good smoke and we drifted off behind it.
“What’s your number?” Dub looked at Rye real serious like he was asking about his mom’s health.
I leaned forward from the couch and took the burning nub of joint from his outstretched hand. We called him Dub because his name was Lazarus Livingston—Double L. His parents named him to be a football star. He could play once upon a time, but not like Rye.
Rolls, who was too high, chimed in: “Stop it, bruh, that shit’s not important.”
“Of course it is. I’m finna touch every continent,” Dub said.
“White’s not a continent,” Rolls said.
“You know what I mean.”
“I know you never won a geography bee,” Rolls said.
The room was streaked with haze like we dropped cream in a coffee, but Rolls never cracked windows. He smoked like a pro even still, burned blunts and let it box out the room. He had the leather furniture from his dad’s old office and we sank into it. These days, he got lit every morning before work, after his bowl of Smacks. His latest was shooting an ad for the ambulance chaser Anthony Izzo. I was about to ask him if he still painted.
“Why won’t you answer the question?” Dub continued. “Gio would answer.” He looked at me: “Wouldn’t you, G?”
“Don’t play this game,” I said.
“Man, G don’t count, he’s mixed, that’s a performance-enhancing drug.” Rye tagged me light on the chest.
“He speaks!” Dub said.
“Shut the fuck up,” Rye said.
“Whoa, peace,” Rolls said. “My place is a sanctuary.”
“Stop with the Buddhist bullshit,” Dub said.
I put the joint out. Rye started rolling another.
Rolls stood, but put his hand on the armrest to steady himself. He straightened up. “It’s Brahman,” he said.
“Brah-shut-the-fuck-up,” Rye said.
Rolls smacked his lips and looked at Rye. “You two belong together,” he said. “I’m getting a drink.”
“Get me one,” I said.
Rolls wiped his eyes and left to the kitchen.
“Really though, why you being shy?” Dub nudged Rye. Their huge frames looked goofy sitting on the couch together, boulders sinking into the leather, jostling each other like idiots.
“Nigga, stop, I’m rolling. You’ll ruin the jay.”
“My Gawd! You’ve never fucked a white chick.”
“Don’t be stupid.”
Rye began licking the edges and shaking the cone down.
“Don’t pack it too tight,” I said.
“Madie teach you that?” Rye said.
Rye knew I didn’t roll well, but my girl rolled jays better than him and Rolls. She kept the jay loose enough to pull well but tight enough not to burn sloppy or canoe. I loved watching her manicured fingers at work. During one of our college breaks, I brought her back to the city and showed her around. She rolled our weed and talked above us, underneath us, and around us. My boys cracked jokes and looked out for her. They treated her like a long-lost, porcelain-colored cousin. She said our outdoor weed was garbage. We called it middies. She called it schwag. Both equated to trash. Rye said that Madie was the first woman he ever bought a drink for, but I’d seen his lying ass spend money on chicks in high school.