NYU Black Renaissance Noire Spring 2015 - Page 57

“Look!” Did Stella yell at me? Why would she yell at me? Why? “You gonna have to let that go, honey, seriously,” I hear. “Start from today. Clear your mind. Let it go. You ain’t kill your own mama bit more than the man on the moon. We all kill somebody at some point, ever when we ain’t trying to. Concentrate. Now.” We finished the customer’s order, on time. We always do. When I see the paper sack from McDonald’s on our Durango’s passenger side, where I’m to sit, I fret. The last of the sun shoots like a laser into the car, right atop Marlon’s salt-and-pepper head, still more pepper than salt. His trumpet is in our backseat, from a weekend wedding somewhere in the Hoosier state; you can cross it west to east in two hours. But now, any kid with two turntables, a set of subwoofers, milk crates and a friend to help carry it all can play songs the crowds actually recognize — for a third of what Marlon, a drummer, a bassist, a keyboardist and a raspy-voiced songstress need just to break even. And now with digital music and the downloads, he is angry all his predecessors need is a few working fingers on one hand to fill a room with music. For more income, he relies on trivia nights, church revivals and long Sundays to include the aggravation of a flamboyant organist he can’t always follow. The suggestion for me to pile work atop Stella’s was more than a nudge. I never figured myself for a breadwinner. But Marlon missed his chance to be a pop star, and the master’s degree he would need to teach is a much riskier investment than just going on. And, we must afford a baby too. “I pulled some hamburger out of the freezer,” I say. “I was making spaghetti tonight. Didn’t you see it?” I speak wildly to him now: far too fast, like I am nervous. “I saw it,” he says. “But, I was hungry now. Pass me some fries.” “Marlon, the bag is right next to you.” “LaDonna, I’m driving.” I turn away. “Well, if you can’t take your hand off the wheel for one second to pull a few French fries out of a bag, like in college when all you ever ate was McDonald’s, then how you gonna take your hand off the wheel to eat the French fries?” I open the bag, pull out the bright red carton of greasy twigs. I dump every one into his crotch. They are fresh. Steaming. I’ve been so kind today. Who is kind to me? “LaDonna! Damn!” Marlon skitters in his seat. Our Durango swerves. The turn onto our road off Indianapolis Boulevard flies by. Soon, we are near horse trails on ground we no can