Kamilah shouldered into the dim bar and looked around for Jay, a little out of breath from her swift walk from the bus stop. The sound system switched from r&b to sad country as she scanned the place. Jay was on a stool, waving his hands at the bartender in the midst of some story. “You bothering this poor young man while he’s trying to work?” Kamilah slid into the seat next to him.
Relief softened Jay’s features and he held up his beer bottle and two fingers, ordering for her. “Thought that Chungie’s closes at 10? Its past midnight.”
“My boss kept me, and I don’t say no to hours.” Kamilah smiled gratefully at the bartender, who despite a well-puffed beard, couldn’t be any older than her own son at nineteen. No wonder he’d been being nice to Jay. “Sorry though, thanks for waiting.” She leaned over and brushed her lips against his jaw and the graying stubble there.
“Of course girl.” Jay grinned back, a little drunk. The bartender opened a condensation slick beer and set on the scuffed bar in front of Kamilah. Jay put his elbows on the bar, head turned and still smiling. “You work too much. If you didn’t come in so tired I’d think you found someone else. Still no time for a boyfriend?”
Kamilah shook her head, “Jay, I got two jobs and I’m in the market for a third.”
“You just here for the free beer then?” He asked, causing her to sputter as she drank hers with a laugh.
“No, no I–” Kamilah started but the country song filled in the void, bittersweet lyrics filling her pause a little bit of hooking up is good for the soul. The singer went on to describe past lovers while Jay and Kamilah laughed again together this time. For a moment Kamilah didn’t think of her shift in seven hours, it was nice to just laugh next to man who called her girl even though she hadn’t been one in a good long while.
“So we gonna listen to the song and go? Your place?” Jay took his chance, throwing a twenty down from his pocket to pay for their drinks.
“I got kids. I don’t bring men home. Not til Ashlyn’s out at whatever fancy college she’s got her heart set on.” Kamilah made sure her voice held no wiggle room. It wasn’t Jay in particular, she liked Jay, trusted him even, but she’d heard too many horror stories to risk it just cause she was lonely. “Sorry Jay, its a rule of mine.”
“Oh come on, their teenagers right? They’re probably not even there it being Friday night at midnight. That age, I raised all sorts of hell when my parents were working.” Jay reasoned, resting a hand on the small of her back as they walked from the bar.
“My kids are good kids. And they have better sense than you.” Kamilah retorted, but she was thankful he pressed just a little. It was nice to have someone trying and she kissed him on the sidewalk so he knew she appreciated the chase, even if it wasn’t leading anywhere. “Goodnight Jay.”
Music challenge time. This week Judd and I wrote to Jenny Lewis’ Heads Gonna Roll. See Judd’s piece here.