Almost Here! THE WAY OF A MAN WITH A NEIGHBOR (New Excerpt)
Sol looked around as he spoke to make sure everyone was in on his joke. A few of the women tittered like school girls with a crush even though many were family members. Sol had that effect on women. He always had.
“If you’d keep the same number longer than a month you might get a call,” Sam shot back. He wasn’t about to let his brother embarrass or intimidate him, or let it appear that he could, especially not with Camilla standing right there. And what had they been talking about anyway?
Sol grinned like it was all good but Sam could see the cold calculation in his brother’s eyes. He knew him too well to fall for his bullshit.
Sol stepped away from the wall and spread his arms. “Aw hell man, c’mere and give your big brother a hug. I ain’t seen you in what, five years?”
“Something like that.”
Sam hugged his brother. While they were embraced Sol muttered in his ear, “Boy, she got titties and ass for days. I hope you’re man enough to handle all that. If you need some help let me know.”
As they separated Sam gave him a hard eye. “I’ve got it covered.”
“I know you do, boy. I’m just messing with you, having a little fun. This is supposed to be fun, right? We’re celebrating Aunt Helen’s birthday.” He said it like he was the one who’d thought of throwing the party instead of arriving as it was wrapping up.
“When did you get here?” Sam asked.
“Just a minute ago. Man, I left Jersey in the wee hours.” He looked around at the thinning crowd and then over his shoulder at Camilla. “Looks like I didn’t miss the good part though.”
Aunt Helen was one of the people standing near the wall. “That’s all right, baby,” she said. “You came, and that’s what matters.”
“You know I wouldn’t miss this,” Sol said. He looked sincere now. “You’re Ma’s only sister and me and Sam love you like our own mother.”
That drew a few “Aws” from the remaining crowd. Aunt Helen gave Sol a hug and kiss on the cheek.
Sam took the opportunity to move closer to Camilla. She took his hand.
“Okay, I need to grab me some of whatever grub is left,” Sol announced. “I been on the road all day and I’m hungry as the stepchild of a refugee.”
Aunt Helen lived to feed people so that was all she needed to hear. She grabbed Sol’s hand and hauled him off to the food table.
Sam didn’t want to seem insecure but he knew how good his brother was at spreading bullshit and making it smell like flowers. “So what was he talking about?” he asked Camilla.
“He was nice,” Camilla said. “He said he was proud of you, the way you stuck it out in the Air Force and made it your career. He said even though you’re his younger brother he’s trying to catch up to you.”
If that was more of Sol’s bullshit it was a new line. The last time his brother had expressed an opinion about him joining the Air Force was right after he’d been sworn in. Sol told him he was selling out to a system that didn’t give a damn about the black man.
Sol came back carrying a sagging paper plate loaded by Aunt Helen with a mountain of soul food. He gnawed off a hunk of drumstick and said, “Little brother, I can’t be a country bumpkin like you but damn these southern people can cook! Reminds me of how Ma used to throw down in the kitchen. So hey, I’m hearing you got you a nice crib down here.”
“I like it,” Sam said.
“You got room for me to squat tonight?” He cut a smile at Camilla. “I mean, if you trust me around your pretty lady, since she lives right next door to you and all.”
So either Camilla or somebody else had been telling Sol his life story. “I don’t trust you but I trust her so it’s all good.” Sam smiled as he spoke but he wasn’t lying.
“Yeah well, don’t worry too much; I got to leave tomorrow so I can be at work on Monday.”
Sol had a job? A real job? “Where’re you working?”
“Down in Asbury Park, at Green’s Fine Autos.”
“And selling them well. Your big brother was tops in sales three out of the last four months. The manager says I could sell barks to a dog.”
“Yeah, that I believe.” Sol was a con man to his soul.
“So can I crash at your place?”
“Yeah man, it’s no problem.” Sam hoped that would be true.