I Got To Tell My Wife

The cab was on Biscayne Boulevard when Nick looked into his wallet and discovered he had only a dollar. He didn’t have enough for the fare.

“Drop me off at 19th Street instead,” he instructed the cab driver. He could take out money from the bank on the corner and walk the last six blocks to the yellow building.

The streets were empty and the sky had begun to brighten. It was almost the next day. As the alcohol wore off Nick began to feel guilty. All the drinking they had done, how useless it was. It was all a waste, he thought. Nick didn’t even know why he did it. He started in with it and then he didn’t stop himself. He didn’t even enjoy it. It was all the same, the same people and places and nothing new really happened. Maybe there was a fight, or a girl, or something was said that shouldn’t have, but none of it was new. Nick wanted to get home, to lay down and go to sleep.

“This side is good?” asked the cabbie. They were approaching 19th Street.

“I need to get some money from that bank,” said Nick.

The cab stopped at the bus stop where a black man was sitting. The black man was leaned forward and held his head in his hands. He didn’t look up as Nick stepped out of the cab and passed him on his way to the bank.

Nick went inside the vestibule and saw the cash machines were off. The luck, he thought. He walked back to the cab and opened the door.

“We have to go to another bank. The machine is off.”

“Take this,” a voice spoke from behind Nick. It was the black man. The black man held out to Nick a handful of crumpled bills.

Nick looked at him and looked at the money.

“Take it. Pay for the cab,” said the black man.

Nick took the money. It was just enough to pay the driver. The cab drove away.

“Why’d you do it?” Nick asked the black man.

“Just keep going,” said the black man as he sat back down on the bench. He was dressed in a button down shirt and dress pants and did not seem much older than Nick.

“I done bad things,” he said. “I done bad things to white people,” he said. “I got to make up for the bad things I done. Don’t you worry about it. Keep going.”

Nick moved to sit down on the bench. Nick was curious what was wrong with him.

“Don’t you sit down,” the black man looked at Nick tensely.

Nick hesitated and then watching the black man he sat down carefully at the end of the bench.

“I told you not to sit next to me, sir,” the black man pleaded. “I told you to keep going, sir. I told you not to sit with me.”

“My name is Nicholas.”

“Sir, do you really want to talk to me?” The black man seemed to relax.

“Yes,” Nick answered.

“I fucked up bad,” he said. “I fucked up bad and I got to go home. I don’t know what to do. I got all this blow on me and I’m going to do it all and then go home.”

He produced a pink baggie of coke from his pocket. He handed it to Nick. Nick took out his apartment key, used it to dig out a bump and snorted it. He dug a bump for the other nostril, did it, and handed the baggie back.

“I ain’t done this shit in years. I ain’t done this shit or anything—” the black man broke off. “I can’t throw it away. I bought all these bags at the club. Good shit, not stepped on. Pure, y’know?”

“Its not bad,” Nick confirmed. His mouth was dry from the drinking and as the cocaine took effect his mouth felt even drier. He suddenly felt very awake. It was good cocaine.

“I spent $1400 tonight. I lost a $8000 watch my wife got me,” the black man paused, “I lost my wedding ring. I don’t know how I lost them. I got to go home. I just had twins, twin girls. I don’t do this shit no more, I don’t do this shit no more and I got to go home.” He put his key into the little baggie, snorted a bump and licked the rest from the key.

“How long are you married?” asked Nick.

“Eight years,” said the black man. “You don’t have to sit here, sir. You white. You don’t have to sit here.”

“You paid for my cab and I’m going to sit here,” Nick told him. Then Nick thought about it. He was married about eight years now too.

The sun had come up over the bay and there was morning traffic on the boulevard. It was going to be a hot day. Nick didn’t feel so badly now. The cocaine had awakened him. He didn’t need to sleep. It was Sunday morning.

The black man turned to Nick. He looked as if he was about to cry. “I fucked three bitches tonight. That white cracker bitch—excuse me. Excuse me, I’m sorry.”

“It’s all right,” Nick reassured him.

“I fucked three bitches at the club and I didn’t wear no protection and I don’t know what diseases I might have got. I got to go home and tell my wife that. I lost my watch and my ring and fucked three bitches and I don’t know where all that money went. How did I spend that money.”

He offered the coke. Nick keyed out another bump for himself.

“I’m not like this,” the black man continued. “God gave me a second chance and I did this. I was a junkie. I was on the street. I didn’t care for nobody and I ate off the street. I should be dead. I got shot five times. Glock 9 from five feet. I got a titanium plate in my skull, not metal so I can go through security at the airport.” He rapped his knuckles against his forehead making a dull knocking sound. “I can’t show you the other places I been shot. That’s why I helped you. That’s why I got to help people. I’m responsible for all the bad shit I done, but God’s responsible for me living today. I’m not like this, what you see now. I’m not like this. I don’t do this.”

He took a bump from the pink baggie and licked his key. A bus stopped and the black man waved it on. “Can you sit with me till the next number three?”

“I’ll sit with you,” said Nick.

“I got a construction company. I got a $235,000 house in Aventura. This shirt I’m wearing, this shirt costs $300.” He tried to pull out the tag to show Nick.

“It’s a nice shirt.

“I got to do something for you.”


“I’m going to give you $200. You sitting with me and I’m going to give you $200. I don’t have it now but I’ll give it to you.”

“I don’t want it,” Nick said.

“I killed two people when I was a junkie. I didn’t care for nobody. That’s why I helped you and I got to help people.” He paused. “I could have killed you too,” he mumbled.

Nick’s heart beat faster.

“I don’t think so,” Nick said at last. He had to say something.

“Sure I could,” said the black man. He stared at Nick until Nick turned away.

A police car went by.

“I wish I was in jail tonight," he said. Then he said, “I think I gave you all my bus money for that cab.”

“There’s a cash machine down the street,” Nick replied.

“Will you come with me?”

Nick hesitated. If it was a plot to get his money it was the most elaborate one he had heard of. But still he wasn't sure. “Ok” he agreed, and he and the black man walked down the boulevard. At the bank the black man put his card in. No money came out. He showed the receipt to Nick. $3.47.

“I spent $1400 tonight.” He stared at the printout.

Nick took out his card and put it into the machine and punched in his code. If something was going to happen it should happen now. He completed the transaction and took out the $20 and gave it to the black man.

“Can I get a beer?” he asked Nick.


They walked together silently to the supermarket on NE 2nd Avenue. The black man went in and came out with a beer in a paper bag and gave Nick the change beyond what he needed for the bus fare.

“Can you sit with me a little longer? I got to finish the blow and then I’m going home.”

Back at the bus stop bench he dipped his key into the pink baggie and snorted. There was one final bump remaining.

“I want to meet you tomorrow and give you $200.”

“I don’t want your money.”

The black man cracked open the beer. A number three bus passed them without stopping.

“Then we got to meet tomorrow so I can pay you back,” he said.

The black man snorted the final bump from the baggie. He offered the can of beer to Nick and Nick took a long pull. The cold beer tasted delicious. Nick thought about how he loved the mornings at first light and how the city came alive. He didn't feel guilty at all.

“Can you walk me to the train so I can go downtown and get some Xanax? I got to come down. I need it to come down.”


Nick walked him to the Omni station on 15th Street.

“How much do you need?” Nick asked.

“Fifteen dollars.”

On the corner of 15th and Biscayne Nick counted out the money. There was $13 after the bus fare and beer and Nick handed it to the black man.

He looked at the money. “I can’t,” he said, trying to give it back.

Nick said, “Take it. A white guy and black guy passing money here doesn’t look good. Take it and get on that train.”

“Are you coming with me?” He looked desperate.

“No,” Nick told him. “You got to go alone.”

He brought out his phone. “Can I call you? Can we meet tomorrow?”

Nick gave his number.

“I’m going to call you,” the black man said.

“Everything will work out,” Nick lied. Nick turned and walked back up Biscayne in the direction of his apartment.

Nick was still sleeping that evening when his phone rang.


“It’s the guy from the bus stop.”

“How are you?”

“I’m okay.”

“Did you tell her?”


“All of it?”


“About the girls?”


“Are you going to?”


“I think you’re going to be okay.”

“Do you think so?”


“I’m going to call you later and give you my other number. Don’t call this number. It’s my work number.”


“I’ll call you later.”


Nick lay holding the phone and feeling very alone in the darkness. He could still smell the Haitian girl on his pillow. It was a smell that only black people have. He set the phone down. There wasn't anything to tell. Nick tried to go back to sleep.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Copyright © Moraline Free