Time will crawl and the holidays approached... The Day of Dead Birds, Thanksgiving, the first domino in the yuletide season. This Thanksgiving would be the first time that Veronica would be away from her family. The melancholy that settled over her was visible when she thought or spoke about it. She was doing her best to pretend as if it didn't bother her but i could tell it did. She wanted to know if i was going to be around, if somehow i could stop over and see her that day. Unfortunately i told her i'd be out of town with the Waitress and spending it with her family. I explained it was the last place i wanted to be but that i had to keep up appearances. To bail on it now would be a red flag even though the Waitress knew i wasn't all that keen on going, how the traffic was a nightmare and added an hour or more to the trip, how i longed for running the streets into the wee hours on the biggest party night of the year. I was a fucking barbarian forced into a role of domesticity that i wore like a cheap and ill-fitting suit.
In order to make the holiday more bearable she had begun to organize a Thanksgiving dinner and party at her place. There was a group of after-hours kids, a veritable island of misfit toys, young adults from broken homes who had no place to go and no one to see. I understood it well as i had been in the same situation for a few years yet somehow i relished those times. Of course they involved what could only be described as some historic hangovers where i couldn't function until late into Thanksgiving Day, including one where i spent a good hour calling pizza places cuz i had no food and the only thing my hangover wanted was a fucking pizza. Note to self, there are no pizza joints open on Thanksgiving. Her party would consist of roughly half a dozen lost puppies who would drink and smoke and do various drugs all while trying to capture the semblance of belonging. I would have loved to be there.
In the meantime i had begun to shop for Xmas gifts for her. She didn't expect it or ask i just wanted to do it. I kept the cards close to the vest as i asked searching questions about things she might need or want and of course i had a few of my own ideas. A lovely pair of oxblood colored Doc Martens, clothes, pajamas, the obligatory Victoria's Secret gift card. I stealthily went about procuring the correct info for the proper sizes and the like as our routine stayed the same. Though the clouds were now more than creeping closer as Veronica grappled with the situation and her role in it and what would happen between us. It became apparent, no matter how much shit i shoveled, that i probably wasn't moving out of my place any time soon and she was smart enough to discern that fact.
A rival for her affections had began to appear. A kid named Franco, one of the after-hours crew, who had taken a shine to her and who she seemed to be hanging about the fringes more and more. I'd see him at the strip club or hanging about in the bars, always smart enough to keep his distance from me less the King of the North Oakland jungle take offense and lash out. It wasn't really in my plans, i knew i had no right to keep her from doing or seeing who she wanted to see especially considering where i slept every night. That said he understood the rules and was cautious when i was around. Franco wasn't a bad kid and who could blame him for taking a liking to a beautiful young woman like Veronica. He was about 5'10 with dark hair and thick glasses that ended up being a point of ridicule among some of those in my crew. I told them to leave the kid alone but some still felt the need to prove their loyalty by making fun of the kid. One of my less enlightened members of my crew dubbed him Ping Pong due to the way his glasses made his eyes look. Franco wasn't Asian he was Italian but that didn't stop my personal pit bull and even when i told him to cool the fuck out he'd still manage to slip a jab in.
And so the night before The Day of Dead Birds i packed and overnight bag and slipped into my own cloak of melancholy. The drive as usual was a nightmare and by the time i got there i wished i had somehow found and excuse to stay home. I spent The Day of Dead Birds sneaking off to rooms where i could be alone, where i could call and leave messages. I hid in the bathroom and finally go a hold of her, my hushed tones a reminder of where i was, she said she understood and she never once pressed me to change it. By the fourth time i had called i could hear the strains of annoyance creeping into her voice. It was something i had never heard before and it hurt but i realized that she was having fun with her island of misfit toys and that the dinner she had made was a smashing success. I mentioned that i'd be leaving soon and that when i got back i'd try and get out. She said not to worry about it and that one of the after-hours places they hung out was opening at 10PM and a few of them were going there. I muttered a feeble "okay" and hung up.
The King of North Oakland was in trouble. It was a pathetic display on my part, the endless calling, the wanting her to say something that would reassure me of my place while i could hear all the fun and laughter in the background. I knew Franco was there. I knew i was being a annoying shithead. I knew the reason why i wasn't there as well as she did. The next day was Black Friday. For the Waitress it would be a long and busy day. I had the day off and planned on heading over the Veronica's to see her. I spent most of the day calling and lying about the apartment. I did a fair amount of business and had more piling up but at this point that was secondary. My main focus was Veronica. I needed to see her. When she finally answered well into the afternoon i could tell she had just woken up. I asked if i could stop by. She said no. There was a long pause and then she said she meant not right now and that she needed to clean her place up but that later would be okay. Great i said. I explained i had a bunch of business to do and even mentioned that she could come down to the Little Corner Bar is she felt like it. She said she'd been out super late the night before and was just catching up but that i could stop by when i finished up.
Black Friday was just as good for the local hood as it was for the retail merchants of the area. Business was booming and the cash was fairly spilling out of my pockets. Between some of my Weight Crew and the nickel dimers i had flipped over ten pounds. The business was a drug in itself. There is a rush to moving mad amounts of weed. Roughly three
pounds of the ten was in smaller quantities. A half pound, a few quarter pounds, a bunch of ounces and what not. Needless to say i was not running any Black Friday specials, there were no sales or discounts other than the usual. Didn't seem to matter as the product flew off the shelves.
It was roughly 11PM when i hopped in my car and sped few blocks to her place, bounded up the steps and walked into her apartment. She smiled and threw her arms around me, said she missed me yesterday, took my hand and walked me back to her bedroom. If there was anything amiss she had done a great job of hiding it. I relaxed as we pawed at each other and fell into bed.