Swirl Love is Not Forbidden(3)By: Tamara Black
Bullet got into the vehicle and left without saying another word. He didn’t need to remind me of the seriousness of my mother’s debts to the local casino. I took the gym bag to my car and stuffed it in the trunk under my spare tire.
My neon Pizza Pizza lights on top would decrease my chances of being pulled over while delivering product to clients all over the county. Still, I took a risk every night I went out – not to mention it was tiring to work days and nights every day.
When I arrived at Pizza Pizza, I parked in back. Inside, the smells and noises hit me. I don’t want to be here right now, I thought as I opened the door separating the lobby from the back area. Even after two cups of coffee, I could barely keep my eyes open.
I fell asleep with the alarm set for six thirty in the morning so I could repeat the whole process over again. Until I paid off my mother’s debts, I had to keep hustling as hard as I could. The CWM gang charged me outrageous interest rates that put credit card companies to shame.
♥ ♥ ♥
The alarm on my phone sounded. I reached over on my nightstand and blindly tapped at it with my eyes closed. A tiny voice in the back of my mind kept me from falling back asleep. I groaned as I stood up and shuffled to my kitchen to make coffee.
I rushed through the rest of my morning routine after having half a cup, but I quickly got behind in time. On the drive over, I thought about Tanesha. She seemed a good person to me, but I wasn’t sure if I could trust her with the truth.
When I pulled into the Pizza Pizza parking lot, I saw her car, an old, silver Toyota highlighted with rust spots. I parked next to her. When I got out of the car, I could see my breath in the air. I hate the cold, I thought, hoping the night shift hadn’t turned down the heat too low.
“You weren’t waiting long, were you?” I asked Tanesha.
She shook her head as she walked over. “A bit, but it’s okay. You look tired.”
“That bad, huh?” I asked then smiled.
We looked at each other awkwardly for a moment.
“Let’s get inside,” I said finally. “It’s cold.”
“Yeah, I think the heater is going out on my car,” she said.
“Oh, yeah? Is it not blowing or just blowing cold?”
I walked to the back door and opened it with my key. As I held it open, she stepped inside.
“It only blows hot air when I press on the gas.”
“Sounds like you’re low on anti-freeze,” I said confidently as I went in and stomped my books on the carpet in front of the door.
“I can check it later when I go out for a smoke break,” I said.
“We get to smoke?” she asked. “I don’t get to much anymore with my kids around.”
“Breaks are okay as long as you’re not out there your whole shift. I mean, it can get stressful around here sometimes.”
“That why you’re a smoker?” she asked point-blank.
I took off my coat and tossed it on a stainless steel prep-table.
“How did you know?”
“I saw the stickers in your car window,” she said.
“A real Nancy Drew.”
She laughed. “A black Nancy Drew.”
“Ooh, there’s an idea for a new series,” I said. “But yeah, I smoke. It’s legal now.”
“Legal to buy it and smoke it but not sell it.”
Why would she say that? I asked as paranoia crept into my mind.
“Yeah…” I let my voice trail off to change the subject. “You ready to make some dough?”
She nodded. “Sure. Should I take notes?”
“It’s all written down and easy to follow.”
“Great. What do you want me to do?”
As we worked, putting all flour, yeast, oil and water into the giant metal mixing bowl, I forgot about being so tired as she lifted my mood considerably. You know those people who are just fun to be around no matter what the situation? That was her.
“Cut the cheese, huh?” she asked, giggling.
I laughed. “No, not like that.”
She put me at ease as we ground fresh mozzarella and muenster cheese for the day’s pies.
“I like that you guys use fresh ingredients.”
“As much as we can. It makes it taste so much better. Have you had our pizza before?”
“No, to be honest, I can’t afford it trying to raise two children on my own.”
“Oh,” I said, realizing for the first time she was a single mother. “What are their names?”
“My children?” she asked, perhaps surprised I continued along the personal lines.
“Destiny and Michael. She is four and he is five years old.”
“Wow. You don’t look a day over twenty-one,” I said.
“Aww. Thank you. They’re a handful. And expensive, which is why I had to get this job. I work from home at night, writing articles for websites.”
“That sounds fun,” I said, attaching the last strip of masking tape and writing a date on top of one of the tubs of cheese.
“Oh, all kinds of them. I don’t get name credit for them.”