SUITCASE & A CIGARETTE By DuVay Knox

Punk Noir Magazine


Just before you leave her and head out the door and hit a lick and a stick to the bus station with your raggedy suitcase and your last cigarette in your mouth, where you will ride among the destitute and desperate, you decide to write a letter of your intentions informing her of your decision. You know all about her. When she will get home. What she will do before she finds your letter in the bathroom because you decide leaving the letter where you take a shit is apropos of what she’s put you through. You know she’ll take off all her clothes soon as she hits the door and let her breasts swing free like monkeys in a tree. Then, she will come into the bathroom to take a shower and wash the world off her silky, smooth, cinnamon skin. And that’s when she will see the letter taped to the mirror that you left behind for her. She will read how you always respected her even though she never gave you the same respect. She will smell the ashes of your Kool cigarette on the top, right hand corner of the letter because you always let the Cig hang out the left corner of your mouth while you’re doing shit. So that’s where the ashes fell as you wrote about love and loss. She likes to read so she’ll read about how you never cheated on her because cheating is not what you do. Cheating is what she accused you of but cheating is not what you do. So yall argued. She’ll read about that argument in full detail. She’ll hear your side, finally. Because only after you’re gone can she find it in herself to hear what you were saying. But she can’t hear it from you directly. She has to read it. And you’re not mad about that. You just wish you could be there to tell her yourself. But that’s always been one of her problems. She never listens to you until after the fact. Until after the damage has been done. And how many times did you push that aside and clean up her mess anyway? Huh? How often were you the one she woke up to in the middle of night to provide a solution to the absolute hellish shit she was going thru? When her crazy ex began stalking her after he got out of the Penitentiary she nearly begged you to help her come up with a viable solution that would keep his ass at bay–and away. And you did. Does she even remember how grateful she was that you were there for that? It’s as though you do these things for her and she promptly forgets them. In other words, she takes you for granted. And one thing you’ve always hated is being taken for granted by those who should truly be Grateful. You’ve always given her the benefit of the doubt. But you should know better because you learned over the years that there’s something strange about giving people the benefit of the doubt. And that is: you tend to get left out. All that kindness for weakness shit crops up a lot when you deal with humans.

Blame yourself though. Because you knew how she was before you got involved with her. Humans are merely animals. And animals can’t change their Nature. Neither can humans, you dig? It’s the law of the jungle that many like you forget. Then, before you know it you’ve invited the snake in the grass into your life. As you prepare to write you realize a lump is in your throat and a tear is in your eye. You can’t even remember the last time you cried. Hell, you didn’t even cry at your Mama’s funeral. And she was your main girl. Not that you were a mama’s boy. You just were close to your mama because you respected her. In hindsight, that’s one of the things that attracted you to this woman you’re about to leave–she reminds you of Your Mama because she has quite-a-many of those old school ways about her. At least she did in the beginning. Then, you don’t know what happened. Where it truly all went wrong. Time, like cancer, has a way of sneaking up on you before you know it — and DESTROYING shit. In the military it’s FUBAR. Fucked Up Beyond All Repair. That was funny then. Now, not so hilarious. It’s always like that though, isn’t it? When it’s somebody else’s pain or goof–you laugh. But then when your own ass is in the sling, you want sympathy. You want the world to cry with you and offer up condolences. That is if you tell them. But you don’t want to tell anybody of the failure of your relationship with a woman you’ve been with nearly 2 decades. 10 Winters and 10 Summers. And countless bouts of lovemaking. Now you’ve lost track of the number of times you and her have argued about: NOTHING. Nothing in particular. The arguments always snuck up on you when U least expected it now that U think about it. From out of nowhere the who left what, where became a major issue. Of course, the who, what or why was never really the issue was it? It was YOU. It was HER. It was YALL. It was LIFE. You think about that song by the group The Manhattans where they sing about finding “love on 2-way street and losing it on a lonely highway.” You even think about that goddamn “somebody done done somebody wrong song” you useta hear on late-night commercials years ago because they wanted you to buy them cheap ass records. You shake your head because life is a trip. And now here you are about to take one. But where do you go when you don’t really have no place to go? Remember how you useta ask yourself that very question for just a situation as this but never thinking it would come to this–and now it has? And you’re afraid because you’re a man of your word because you told her once that if you ever walked out that door you were never coming back. So now you’re about to write this letter and head to the Bus Station with a raggedy suitcase and one last Kool cigarette in your mouth. And you ain’t never coming back to a woman you still love.

Bio
DuVay Knox is originally from the Mississippi Delta inclusive of New Oreleans and the greater deep south. Now lives in New Orleans’ Sister City, St. Louis, Missouri. He specializes in writing flash and microfiction stories as well as gritty, urban-driven black pulp fiction novellas.