Swirl Love is Not Forbidden(7)

By: Tamara Black



I thought about calling my mother to tell her I was about to make another payment on her debts, but I didn’t want to get into a fight. After another long day, I just wanted to crawl into bed, get under the covers, and sleep.

Before I could do that, though, I had to find a way to work in the morning. I called five people, all of whom said no in one way or another. The only other person I could think about calling was Tanesha, who had given me her number in case of an emergency at the store.

“Hello, Tanesha?” I said after she answered.

“Who is this?”

“It’s me, Tony. From the shop.”

“Oh, hey Tony. It’s late. What’s going on? Am I fired?” she asked.

“No, no, it’s nothing like that. You’ve been doing great. My car died tonight, and I was wondering if you could swing by and pick me up in the morning.”

“Yeah, I can do that for you. I mean, you saved me a lot of money by fixing my heater problem.”

“Great. I’ll text you my address. About six thirty, then?”

“Sounds good to me. I’ll send you a text when I’m on my way.”

“Thanks so much, Tanesha.”

“No problem. Thanks again for the job.”

“I’ll see you in the morning.”

“What happened to your car?” she asked suddenly as if she didn’t want to hang up with me.

“I’m not sure, to be honest, but I have someone looking at it tomorrow.”

“Cool.” I heard a child scream in the background. “I need to go, okay? Goodnight, Tony.”

“Night, Tanesha.”

After she disconnected, I walked inside my apartment building and tried to rest up before my next full day of work and chaos. Tanesha was the only bright moment in my entire day.





FOUR





Tony





I opened the passenger side door of Tanesha’s car and got in.

“Thanks again,” I said. “It’s way too cold out there.”

“No problem.”

She pulled out of my apartment complex parking lot. I yawned.

“Stop that,” she said, laughing.

“I’m so tired.”

“Up partying last night?” she asked.

“No, nothing like that, I’m afraid. I’ve been delivering pizzas at night too for extra money.”

“You’re the manager, aren’t you making enough money to survive?”

“It’s a long story,” I said.

“You’ll have to tell me sometime.”

“Maybe.”

We kept quiet the rest of the ride while I rested my eyes.

“We’re here,” she said. “You fell asleep.”

“Crap, I’m sorry.”

“Don’t worry about it. I would’ve let you sleep, but you have the keys.”

I smiled and opened the car door. We walked across the parking lot to the back door. After unlocking and opening it, I held the door open so she could go in first. She walked around, turning on lights and firing up the oven while I headed to my office.

She had only been working at Pizza Pizza for a few days, but I already felt like we’d been working together for years. With so much on my mind, I missed having someone to talk to about life. Could she be that person for me? I wondered.

Putting the thought out of my mind, I got to work starting the books for the day. A few minutes later, I headed to the back of the store to help her make dough. She had already dumped the flour into the mixer. I walked up as she poured in the warm water and yeast.

“You’re getting good at this,” I said. “You after my job?”

“Maybe,” she said then smiled.

The Hobart dough mixer fired to life. We stepped back, waiting for it to mix the dough. I leaned against one of the prep tables.

For some reason, I had a sudden desire to tell Tanesha the truth. As we rolled dough balls, placing them on a rectangular metal tray, I broached the topic.

“You really want to know why I’m so tired all the time?”

“It depends if it involved you sleeping with a lot of men or women.”

“A lot of men or women, huh? I sleep with women exclusively.”

“That’s good to know.”

She smiled at me.

Is she flirting or am I just tired?

“I’m in trouble,” I said.

“Yeah, me too.”

“No, I mean real trouble. My mother owes a lot of money to a casino, and I’ve been selling weed out of the store to try to pay it off for her.”

She stopped rolling the dough ball in her hand and stared at me.

“You know it’s illegal to sell it on your own, right?”

“Yeah, of course I do,” I snapped. “But I have to pay off this debt for my mom.”

I watched her face closely to read her reaction to my disclosure.

“I owe people money too, but I’m not selling drugs to pay them.”

“Do you have a guy named Bullet coming to your house to remind you about payments?”

“No,” she said. “Can’t you go to the police?”

I shook my head. “They wouldn’t care and would just make the situation worse.”

“Why are you telling me all this?”

“I don’t know, I thought we were getting along well.”

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