This is what happens when you live in an apartment full of potheads. Empty refrigerator. Nothing but Ramen noodle packs and a half-empty Ziploc bag of stale Cinnamon Toast Crunch in the cabinets. Two cold slices of the large pepperoni pizza you unknowingly paid for while you were in the shower waiting for you on the kitchen table.
I sigh, retrieve my bank card from the pizza box and put it in my pocket. I put the two slices of pizza on the last paper plate, and place it in the microwave, making sure to slam the door loud enough for Levon and Phillip to hear from the living room.
Neither stir. They’re probably too high to function. All they do is smoke, drink, eat, and watch MSNBC all day. It’s a wonder the bills even get paid. I know Phillip works, but Levon only leaves the apartment to buy weed and cigarillos. He needs to be more careful. With that ankle bracelet on, the cops know where he is every second of the day. If they were to ever catch him at his dealer’s house, mid-transaction, that’s more jail time.
I don’t know why I stay. Levon and I broke up months ago and I don’t see us getting back together anytime soon. It was a mutual separation. Phillip had walked in on me as I was getting out of the shower. He didn’t bother to look away, and I didn’t bother to cover up. Levon immediately accused us of messing around and left the apartment for a week. When he finally returned, I didn’t ask where he went. We made up and that was it, until his ex, Onisha, showed up at the apartment a month later, saying she was pregnant and Levon was the father. She had been waiting for it. Counting down the days, until I finally fucked up and forced Levon to crawl into her bed for a few minutes of comfort only to end up with eighteen years of drama, and a son he despised because of who his mother was.
We argued for weeks. Then, sick of the fighting, sick of the pain, I joined Levon and Phillip on the couch in the living room and hit the blunt. It was the first and last time I ever smoked with them. They laughed at me when I blew instead of inhaled. That’s when I took a second puff, blew my high into Levon’s mouth and kissed him.
“I love you, but we’re done,” I said.
“Aight” was his only response.
I still pay his portion of the rent, and to show his gratitude he lets me stay in his bedroom while he sleeps on the couch. I still plan to move out. Eventually, I’ll have the courage to tell him to grow the fuck up. He’s 25 years old. But until I find that permanent job with benefits and get my own place, it looks like I’m stuck wasting my paychecks from BB&T on a grocery bill every week and sweeping roaches off the kitchen floor.
I take my pizza out of the microwave and sit in the armchair across from Phillip and Levon in the living room.
“You’re welcome,” Phillip says with a wink.
I pucker my lips and blow him a sarcastic kiss. Levon doesn’t notice. His head hangs awkwardly over his chest as he tries to focus on the images on the television screen.
“Black Jesus, what you think of these marches they havin’ for France?” Levon says to Phillip. That’s his nickname—Black Jesus. He’s black, but very light skin—almost the color of an manila folder. He has long, brown hair that goes just past his shoulders, though he usually wears his hair in cornrows. Whenever he gets high, he always has some philosophical, proverbial, life-changing shit to say about the world we live in.
“I mean, it’s good. But on some real shit, I think it’s crazy that these white people can offend people for a living, get shot up, and the whole world stands up for them, but when a nigga gets choked to death on camera for selling some fuckin’ cigarettes, we can’t even hold a simple protest without the cops rollin’ up on us in full-on riot gear threatening to shoot at us with tear gas and rubber bullets. Look at that video.” He points to the news coverage of the various rallies in London, New York, and other places around the world. “Not a damn cop in sight.”
“That’s because black people don’t know how to act. Yea, we have good intentions, but as soon as the sun goes down, we’re setting liquor stores on fire and flipping cop cars!” I blurt out.
Phillip holds out his joint towards me and lowers his head to look at me over the rim of his glasses. “First of all, no sane nigga would ever set a liquor store on fire.”
“Ha!” Levon shouts.
I shrug my shoulders.
“Second of all, who are you? Uncle Sam’s secretary? Don’t let them white folks at your job fool you.”
“No one’s fooling me.”
“Lemme tell you somethin’,” Phillip says. He takes another hit of the blunt. “Every demonstration group is always gon have that small group of people who just don’t get it. Them the ones who take shit into they own hands and act like nobody taught them shit.” He pauses and passes the blunt to Levon. “Look here,” he says pointing to the TV. A black, red, and yellow flag is displayed in the upper right corner of the screen next to the news anchor’s head. “They having a anti-Islam rally in Germany. Why? Because a couple terrorists who happen to be Muslim shoot up a newspaper? Everybody else in the world standing against terrorism, and these mothafuckas standing against a religion. A whole fuckin’ religion! Because in they twisted, German heads, they think a billion people are evil just because of a few terrorists. Now what if we said all Germans are Nazis because of Hitler? It’s the same thing.”
“I get what you’re saying,” I say, nodding my head. I have to chuckle to myself. He’s probably been smoking all day, his head miles above the clouds.
“Aye, there’s really a billion Muslims in the world?” Levon asks, nudging Phillip’s arm.
“Shit if I know. But look, I used to fuck a A-rab girl,” Phillip starts.
“It’s pronounced Arab,” I correct him.
“Whatever. Anyway, them niggas ain’t terrorists. They just tryna get money and survive in this white man’s world like us.”
“Phil, you should be on a talk show or some shit,” Levon says.
“Y’all my talk show right here,” Phillip says. He takes the blunt from Levon and passes it to me. I shake my head. “Girl, why you so uptight? C’mon. Just one hit.” He smirks at me.
“They don’t hold random drug tests at your job, do they?” Levon asks.
“No, but I got more important shit to do.” I stand up and take a bite of my pizza. “Well, thanks for the enlightenment, guys, but I don’t need a contact buzz, so I think I’ll eat my pizza in my room.”
“You mean my room?” Levon says. “You want me to join you?”
Phillip takes two puffs on the blunt and passes it to Levon to finish it off.
On my way out of the living room, I stop at the doorway and turn to Levon. “I better not see that roach on the floor tomorrow.”
They both snicker. “I can’t make no promises, babe,” Levon says. I don’t bother to acknowledge the unsolicited term of endearment.
I turn to go to my room. At the end of the hall, I can hear the volume of the television rise. MSNBC news is reporting that the girlfriend of one of the shooters may have fled to Syria.
“They been talkin’ ’bout France for the past hour, and that massacre that just happened in Nigeria gets one sentence on the bottom line. Just like Rwanda in the 90s. People only pay attention when white people die,” Phillip is saying.
“Amen, Black Jesus,” I hear Levon say. I close the door.