It’s four o’clock on Friday afternoon. Hazy warm sunlight graces the open doorway of the used bookstore. A lingering kiss from mid-June. It’s hard to believe that the longest day of the year is not even a week off. Days like this are the foreplay of summer.
I have a cousin back home who dreads the longest day of the year. For her, the first day of summer heralds the days getting shorter. Those times when everything is dull and gray and brown and the rain is no longer warm and the damp cold soaks clear through past the marrow. She comes out of it on the shortest day of the year, because it means, day by day, the sun’s going to stay out just a little longer.
My seasonal clock isn’t attuned like that. It doesn’t occur to me that summer’s ending until the leaves start to change color and fall from the trees. Even then, there needs to be at least one hard frost for me to fully understand. For me, winter ends on the first really warm day, and nothing can convince me otherwise. The place I’m trying to get to is right on the equator, and it’s always summer there. Maybe I’m just naïve.
It’s four o’clock on Friday afternoon, and I catch myself amazed it’s so near the first official day of summer. The last almost two months seem like a blur. The only reason I know Morgan Zayne last played at Juke on April twenty-third is because someone told me the date. I’d have just remembered it’d been back in the spring.
I guess Carmen Jordan and I are kind of seeing each other. Or at least the fact we sometimes go out, and the vibe is that of more than just trying to be friends, and the fact we’ve slept together a few times, would certainly indicate something to that effect. It’s been light and fun. We’ve been too busy enjoying this for what it is to worry about what it might become.
If Carmen knows that Kisshandra spent the next three days after that fateful Thursday Night Blues at Juke in bed, or if she knows of that level of my relationship with Kisshandra, she’s never let on. I’ve never felt obliged to bring it up. That’s Kisshandra and I, not Carmen. Besides, Kisshandra and I got our mutual wanting to fuck out of our systems for the next while at least, and we do have an understanding, after all.
Rio knew about it. But Rio always knows when Kisshandra and I have our times. She even went as far as to snark about it, when she cleaned my place after the three days.
“Ai! You two certainly were…athletic,” she said.
Another man, Jazz-Cat Johnny Hobbs, I imagine, would’ve taken that remark as a chance to brag about his prowess, but I felt a little embarrassed. Maybe because I know Rio’s Kisshandra’s other part-time lover. I wondered if those two ever had such sessions, and then felt dirty for ever thinking that.
“It was because of Borneo,” I said.
“Has she ever told you about how she’s felt about you and Borneo?” Rio asked.
“Why do you think my place was such a mess?”
“Say no more,” Rio said. “Although, I wish she never had to tell you that.”
It’s four o’clock on Friday afternoon and I have one hour of work left at Archives Rare and Used Bookstore. I can’t even call this my second job from Wildflowers, because I enjoy both so much, neither seems like work. Although my schedules between the two fluctuates constantly.
The day has been blissfully calm. Just enough customers to help the day go, but not enough draw me away from my daydreams. Sometimes, when sitting behind the counter, I read something literary and important, whether it’s out of sincere interest or social expectation depends on the book, and whether or not I read another word of it after the shift is done. Sometimes, I just grab stack of old comics and flip through those.
It’s four o’clock on Friday afternoon, and I have stack of newly acquired records by my satchel behind the counter. Most are vintage reggae, but there’s one or two calypso records as well. A gift from Rollins, who works at one of the music stores we all frequent. I had made and delivered a nice meal for a dinner date for Jules and him. If he wants to pay me in vintage reggae and calypso records, I really have no problem with it.
Not like for a second Jules didn’t know I had a hand in the meal for their dinner date. At thirty-four years old, Tomas Rollins has yet to master boiling water, let alone making a dinner of anything other than frozen pre-packaged convenience food. Me being seen as the cook-Kisshandra refers to me as the gourmet chef-of our little circle of friends, not withstanding, Jules would later tell me she simply knew.
“You do have a style after all,” she said.
“Well, everybody knows that, honeychild,” I said with a wink. “But I can cook too.”
Jules went on to tell me I was being cocky. I argued the point, like a self-righteous idiot. What I was displaying was a healthy self-esteem. We’ve been at this discussion for two weeks and I still haven’t brought Jules around to my way of thinking, and that’s just plumb annoying.
It’s four o’clock on Friday afternoon. The fates, which govern schedules, have been kind. I have nowhere I need to be tomorrow. No jobs, no parties or shows my friends have obligated me to. I have a day for just me, if I want it.
At home, I have two whole chickens, ready to be slathered in my variation of Jamaican jerk seasoning. I have five bottles of wine sitting on one of my racks and a six-pack of beer in the refrigerator. Rio cleaned my place so well two days ago, she borrowed my keys again to show it to a potential client. I have a stack of new acquired records and an itch to play them. As in cooking, I have the ingredients of an interesting evening.
I grab my phone and start tapping away at the keys. With having the potential of an interesting evening, it seems a shame to keep it all to myself. I decide to start with Carmen. If she doesn’t take an interest in my message, I can think of a few others who might.
I just got some old reggae records and I’m making jerk chicken. You wanna?
I haven’t even set my phone down when it buzzes with a response;
Should I bring some ganja?
It’s four o’clock on Friday afternoon and I’m snickering to myself. I begin to type my response to Carmen with a smile on my face. Light and fun, just as our acquaintance has been so far. It looks like I might have my own dinner date.