Them prostitutes outside the gate could write better poetry than me."
Selah ground her heel into the pavement. I watched the stiletto crush a weed that had pushed through the crack. The gold tip of the heel emerged, crusted in wet dirt.
"No, you fuck right off!" She pulled her shoes off and thrust them at me. "I need a cigarette. I need some goddamned weed. Jesus." Selah pronounced the name of the dead saviour like it belonged to a Venezuelan waiter in the Hyatt.
I left her there, went to the corner bar to get a pack of special filters. The gold-tipped heels swung in my left hand. I paid the cashier with a blue note, collected the cigarettes and a sour look. In the corner of the bar, a girl in a leopard-print skirt was gyrating against a painted oil drum. I looked at her for two minutes, watched the curve of her in the dimness, smelt her improbably expensive perfume. I'd bought Selah a bottle of that perfume when her husband had failed to produce a present on their anniversary. It was Selah's favourite. She liked it so much that she had threatened to drink it last week, when Rav announced that he'd be spending August in Cairo.
Cairo my fucking Trini-Jamaican asshole, Selah had screamed. Cairo my freshly-waxed salt of the Caribbean earth cunt. Why he does do this to me, J? Why he does fuck up my fucking life so?
What the fuck I ever do he?
My cell phone rang. I shoved the pack of cigarettes into one of the shoes, and answered.
"Where the fff...nevermind. Get back here, now. Please. I going on in five."
I stumbled on my way out, heard the oil drum dancer laugh behind me. I wondered whether or not she was laughing at me or at her sad life, her miserable baths in white powder. I remembered the first time I'd told Selah that white powder on the neck was probably not the best look. I was sure she'd deny it now. To see Selah would be to doubt she'd ever stepped foot into - well, the places she avoided like dengue fever now.
She grabbed the cigarettes out of her shoe before I could hand them to her.
"I didn't see any prostitutes outside the gate, Sel-"
She glared, and spat on the pavement. "You're a cunt, J. Trying to fuck up my attempt to get in a better mood. Don't blame me if you end up a bitter unloved queen lesbo." She laughed, presumably at the image it conjured.
I stepped away from her. The emcee was announcing the order in which the night's poets would present their work. Selah was on second.
Not even close, I felt like telling her, but instead I said, "You're on second, Selah."
She grinned, handed me her shoes, and skipped up the driveway to the staging area. I watched them watch her. I saw a man gazing at her legs. His look lingered over her unshod feet. I knew she would talk with him, afterwards. He was holding her first collection of poetry in one hand, a glass of white wine in another. He would listen to her, laugh at her politically appropriate banter, and believe her when she said that she always read barefoot when she thought she'd meet someone intriguing.
I began to think that gold-tipped shoes would look just fine with a leopard-print skirt.