We morphed into the crowd heading east, walking at an easy pace. His hand traveled across my shoulders south and weaved our fingers together. I felt like I’d just been pinned – trust me girl, you wanna be high for this.
I know he was talking. I know I was answering but ask me what about and I couldn’t tell you. I drifted through notes of a song, noticing people’s stares as they passed, observing the pride he radiated, evidenced by his puffed up chest and kool-aid smile. He sucked in his breath at the stop light, playfully checking out my ass and said “damn baby, you’re so damn beautiful.”
I inhaled his pride and bashfully dropped my eyes to the floor before gazing up at him. Words were inadequate to describe the emotions churning inside of me and so I banished them for the time being.
We hadn’t strategized where we were going but when we came across a public park, the lush green beckoned us inside.
“Babe, let’s find a bench away from the crowd and sit down.” Imtiaz stated, his eyes wandering ahead of us.
“Sounds like a plan.” I responded enthusiastically. I noticed a few people, kids for the most part, dispersed among the foliage but no crowds to speak of. I guess my tiger coveted his privacy. It’s alright with me.
He veered toward my right, leading us down a charming brick path, where tree branches escaped their enclosure, reaching out to greet passersby. I was enveloped by the Snow White like scene before me, when a sudden movement and dark wing attracted my eye. Imtiaz discovered a bench nestled in a corner, surrounded by overhanging trees and stopped to tidy up by pulling his sleeve over his fingers and lightly dusting the twigs and leaves to the ground.
So entranced was I by the dark wing that I kept a slow pursuit, leaving Imtiaz gaping after me in confusion.
“Cat, where you going girl?”
“There’s something moving in the trees.” I pointed to the tree, and paused.
I felt him come up behind me.
“It’s probably a squirrel. Let’s go sit down and have a smoke. I cleared the bench for us babe.”
I couldn’t tear my eyes away from the tree nor believe what I was seeing.
“No. It’s a falcon or a hawk.”
“No. Stop, come on, a hawk?” Imtiaz maneuvered to my side peering hard at the tree.
I couldn’t help but marvel that someone was even blinder than my blind ass. I didn’t have my glasses on or my contacts and being that handicapped, your body compensates any way it can and believe me, movement was something I picked up on.
Once I was close enough to see what I thought I saw, there was no denying the raptor’s presence.
As if on cue, the bird flapped and extended it’s wings to purchase balance on the tree branch.
“I can’t believe what I’m lookin’ at. That’s some freakin’ huge hawk, or falcon or whatever the fuck Cat!”
I couldn’t help but laugh at his awe.
“Well I don’t know what it is either but it’s definitely some type of raptor, just look at it’s beak and talons. Dear God he’s magnificent.”
We both took another minute to appreciate the unexpected gift before walking back to the bench.
As I sat down my mind began arranging words, loosely configuring a poem that later the same night I would entitle The Tiger and the Falcon. I wanted to embalm every precious moment with him as if I expected our time together would be fleeting.
I placed my bag on the side, he did the same and then pulled me close, lifting my chin and kissing me passionately. I returned his kiss with equal fervor. After making out for awhile, we broke from each other and I lay my head on his chest, listening to the sounds emanating from our surroundings in perfect bliss.
“Babe, I gotta ask you something and if you say no, then it’s no. Don’t think I’m gonna get mad. I ‘m not sure how you’re even gonna take this but I’m praying that it doesn’t change your opinion of me. But you know, you’re gonna find out sooner or later so I might as well come clean now.”
I propped my head up off his chest and did a half moon roll with my eyes before resting them on his and squinting.
“What’s up?” I asked calm and collected. Was this the part where he told me he had a baby mama, a girlfriend? And what if anything did I have to say about that? Wasn’t I the one that was married? I was trying to prepare myself for this inevitable juncture since I met him, but I was just getting comfortable with the idea of fitting him into my life. I didn’t want to hear about anyone else. I inhaled, held my breath and braced myself.
“Sometimes when I wanna relax I blaze but I ain’t no weed head or nothin’ like that. I don’t do this shit everyday, just you know, like when I wanna chill or I’m stressed out. Would it bother you if I smoked up a little?” His words struggled from his lips before quickly tumbling out and finally settling onto a precarious landing.
I exhaled in relief. D day would come but not today.
I thought about it for a second. I knew a lot of people who smoked chronic but not on a regular basis and I myself never did. I wanted to try it eons go but it was a passing curiosity that faded as I got older. At this point I didn’t have any strong feelings about it one way or the other.
I shrugged my shoulders. “Sure.”
He smiled in relief, the hesitancy and fear abandoning his body. With one word I had changed his entire aura. I felt powerful and significant.
He kissed me soft and long before setting to task.
I watched him with the same fascination as I had the raptor. He pulled out a small plastic bag of what appeared, to me, like basil leaves. He then placed a small brown paper on his thigh, sprinkled a few pinches of the weed on the paper, rolled it up and lit it. As he took two puffs I watched his face, trying to gauge the effect.
He closed his eyes for a few seconds, appearing completely relaxed and reopened them at half mast, smiling at me.
“I would offer it to you but I get the feeling you don’t smoke up.” He said, pointing while holding the roll between his three fingers.
“And you would be right.” I concurred. “I don’t but a lot of my friends do and I don’t see any harm in it. Just not my thing I guess.” I shrugged and inhaled my cigarette, studying him for a response.
“And that’s good, that’s good.” He hunched forward, bobbing his head up and down. “I mean if you don’t need it, why bother?” He squared his shoulders and pulled his eyebrows up in answer, bracing against the bench and taking another hit.
I nodded my head and smiled at him wondering at the double standard. On one hand I felt some pride that he believed I wasn’t the type of chic who needed the chronic but then what was his take on chics that did smoke up? I mean, he did right? Ah whatever. What difference did it make anyhow, I reckoned? I didn’t want it and he seemed happy that I didn’t, no reason to feel any type of way and yet that old Indian man attitude had my back up.
By the time I finished my cigarette, he wrapped it up, literally, dusted himself off and carted whatever leftovers he had over to a trash can a few feet away.
“Cat do you have any gum?”
I fished a stick from my bag and handed it to him. Imtiaz tucked me into him, throwing both of my legs in-between his as if I were a baby, his baby.
When he kissed me a minute later I detected the faint taste of the drug but it was not unpleasant. He kissed me as if endeavoring to transfer the THC but I was already lifted. A tryst, surrounded by a makeshift forest amidst the concrete jungle and hailed by a falcon. We necked the hours away, both elevated on a familiar substance.