In the process of retrieving my painting from the downtown library, I happened to run into an old flame. That's right, REGGIE
He was wearing a grand boubou with a kufah and a dashiki ghobe.
"As-salamu alaykum, my brother," he said.
"Salami a make um, what?"
"Sala sala sssuh ssssuh...?"
"Shhh. Shhh." Reggie put a finger on my lips. "You're just making it worse."
"So why the get up? Are you okay?"
"Never better! I've seen the light." He straightened and puffed out his baritone chest. "I am no longer the lord of the living lightning. I am now the chieftain of the African black lightning!"
"That makes no sense."
Reggie nodded at my canvas. "I hope you listen to your true heart and start painting righteous subjects."
"Listen to me. I want you to know that the things I've been saying about you people, it's not you. You're my brother, you know that?"
"What do you mean?"
"Brother. You know, spiritual brother?"
"No, no. I don't care about that. What do you mean about the things you've been saying?"
Reggie looked around. "Can't talk here. Gotta go."
"Back to work...?"
He threw off his boubou. "No, I'm buying a dildo for my lady...!"
On my way out, I heard a shout. It was Reggie, waving to me.
"And stop painting yourself! Free yourself....!"
I smiled and waved back. "Fuck off!"
At work later that day I learned what Reggie meant by things. Carol called me into the office. She had just been talking to the head of HR. It turned out our new custodian, also a black man, had complained about us. By us I mean whitey. Reggie had told everyone in his department that Cherry Creek was a bastion for virulent racism.
"Just because we had a craft class on how to make the best cross to burn," I said. I threw up my arms. "Jeesh. People are so sensitive these days."
Carol shook her head. "I could lose my job, Greg. Reggie has been telling everyone downtown that we don't like black people."
"Oh spiritual brother."
"[Our new custodian] was very upset. He thought I was following him around the building to spy on him! And last week when I lost my keys in the basement community room he told HR he thought I was trying to trap him by leaving my keys there!"
"Reggie has created a monster."
"And will you promise me you won't tell anyone about this?"
"Of course. You can always count on me!"
"Now I have to go downtown and tell them we're not klansmen. Most of us, anyway."
Muffled in my hood, I waved and said, "Tell Reggie hi!"
Blogging isn't technically telling anyone. Right?
Next Week: My mom. Problems in my marriage. And Riffel's new screenplay!