A QUICK STORY ABOUT A CHARACTER FROM THE LBM BOOK
Eastian: Peace of Mind
“Hey man, can I talk with you for a minute? I really don’t mean to be rude. I just need a minute or two of your time,” the man said.
Eastian was standing in the express lane at the grocery store, looking at his phone, when this older guy approached him looking very disturbed about something.
“Well,” Eastian said, “I’ve been standing in line for the last five minutes, waiting for these old mu’afuckas to get the hell out the way so I can pay for my groceries and get on with my goddamn day. So let me handle this business and I guess we can talk. I don’t know who the fuck you are, but whatever. What’s this about anyway,” he asked.
The other guy looked down as he rubbed his chin and said, “Do you know Lori? White girl. Light brown eyes. Real tight body. Do you know her?”
“Oh goodness,” Eastian said, switching the blue grocery basket from his right, to his left hand.
“You must be the boyfriend or fiancé, right? She told me a bit about you. So what’s up?”
“Yeah, I’m her boyfriend, Ryan. So you can understand my disposition at the moment, right?”
“Alright, alright,” Eastian responded. “So what the hell do you want to know about her?”
“Excuse me?” Ryan snapped back.
“I said, “What the hell do you want to know about her?” Eastian condescendingly repeated.
“I don’t need to know shit about her. I live with her ass. We’ve been together for the last three years. What could you possibly tell me about her, motherfucker?”
Eastian shifted his posture a bit at that point. Ryan took notice and quickly apologized.
“Look, I’m very upset right now. I don’t mean to approach you this way, but I just want to ask a few questions. I’m hurt, angry, confused. I just want to talk about it. Please.”
Eastian kind of sized the guy up, scratched the back of his head, and said, “Alright, that’s much better. I understand. You gotta figure some shit out. It’s cool. Let me pay for this shit and I’ll meetcha outside briefly.”
“Thanks man, and I’m sorry. I’ll see you outside in a minute,” Ryan said, and swiftly walked away.
Eastian’s phone rang. It was Lori.
“Eastian, we need to talk, babe,” she said.
“Bullshit Lori. No! We don’t need to talk. I just met Ryan. I’m sure he didn’t have a problem recognizing me. But I’m not sure how he knew where the fuck I was. We talked for a few minutes in the checkout lane. He’s pretty, upset too. Almost got himself knocked out in the checkout lane.”
“Yeah, I know he’s very pissed off,” she said.
“I thought you guys didn’t live together? He said the two of you have been together for a few years, and that you live together. What’s that shit about?”
“Well let me correct that. We don’t live together,” she said. “He has his own place and of course you know, I have mine. We’ve been seeing each other for a few years. He proposed after he got back from some business consultation he did for a company in Houston.”
“Does he have access to your phone?” Eastian asked. “Don’t even lie to me, because he’s standing near the entrance waiting for me to finish up. I told him I’d talk with him for a minute.”
“Yeah, he has access to my phone.”
“Jesus Christ! I gotta go. I’m paying for my groceries. I’ll talk to you later!” He hung up.
He gets his receipt, four bags of groceries, and meets Ryan outside.
“Alright bro, so what exactly do you want to know about me and your fiancé?”
Ryan asked how and where Eastian and Lori met.
“We met at a jazz festival last summer. I think you were in Chicago. At a conference or something. She said you guys were planning on getting married. Listen, your issues aren’t with me, bro. I’m not in the relationship. You and….”
“No, my issue is with you,” Ryan interrupted. “She told me she told you she was about to be married, but you didn’t respect that.”
Eastian scoffed at what he was hearing.
“Ryan, let me tell you something. I don’t think you’re really processing this very well. Firstly, if I insisted, then why the fuck is my number in her goddamn phone with a picture next to it? Secondly, why is my phone number in her phone with a nickname? And thirdly, why does she even have pictures of me in her phone? If you’re going to pin this shit on me, then what do you hold her accountable to?”
“Have you guys been intimate?” he asked Eastian.
“C’mon man,” Eastian said. “What do you think? You and I are a couple intelligible men, and Lori is a very beautiful woman. You know damn well we played around. On several occasions, too. I’m not trying to be shitty or arrogant when I say that. But you’re asking a question that I’m confident you already know. Yes, we’ve fucked a few times. At my place. At her place. At the resort in Scottsdale. In her garage. What else do you want to know, Ryan? Is this the shit you want to hear, man? Goddamn.”
“You aren’t going to continue to see her, are you?” he asked Eastian.
“To be honest,” he said, looking around, “I haven’t gotten that far in this bullshit. She said ya’ll weren’t together, or whatever the fuck she told me after the jazz festival. But you’re telling me you guys are. Why don’t you let me think about it for a couple days, okay? When she stops by my house I’ll send her back with my decision. How’s that sound, chump?”
Ryan rubbed his scruffy chin again, and chuckled. “I don’t want to be too forward here, Eastian, but I’m telling you now, captain, you’d better leave that alone ‘cos you’re playing with fire, brotha.”
Eastian looked at him like he was crazy.
“Ryan, you can kiss my ass. Your bitch said ya’ll wasn’t together. You guys live separately. If she calls me, you should be the first to know that, yes, I will be fucking her exceptionally long AND well. So go fuck yourself. You’d be wise to not approach me this way again. Or at all. I was being open-minded about the grief this seems to be causing you. But when you make threats like that, then all I have for a mu’afucka is some warm, yellow piss.”
He gathered his grocery bags, got up and left Ryan sitting there outside the grocery store.
Lori sent Eastian a text asking how the conversation went. Eastian called her back.
“Listen to me, girl. I don’t need this bullshit in my life. There are too many women – single women at that – who don’t have this hazard of ex-boyfriend’s, or whatever the fuck Ryan is to you. I don’t expect you to be nowhere near perfect, but I also don’t expect boyfriends, or whatever, to approach me in these goddamn grocery stores,” he said.
“I’m telling you right now, Ryan is going to find his ass beat up. And I won’t even do it myself. You hear me?”
Now before you and I go any-goddamn-further, you need to tell me what the deal is between you and this shitbird boyfriend of yours. GO!”
Lori was crying the whole time Eastian was talking, and told him what the situation was with Ryan.
“We’ve been dating for the last three years. If he’s not here, at my house, then I’m with him at his. Yes, we are in a relationship, if you want to call it that, but he’s never around. Always on some stupid business trip somewhere. It’s been like this since we met. I was fine with it for the first year, and then when I started bitching about it, he’d make it seem like I was shitting on his career, and that I was being selfish and petty,” she explained.
“So I stopped complaining about it, and decided to just live my life when he wasn’t in town for days, or a week or two, at a time. Now, there were a few times – literally, like three times – when he’d fly me out to wherever the business sent him, but that was nothing compared to all the days and nights I sat home alone, being the good girl for my man. A man who wasn’t, and still isn’t, ever home. So I don’t feel bad at all. The very first time I decided I wasn’t going to sit at home alone anymore, I met you, and I’ve been very happy ever since,” she said, still crying on the phone.
“Okay, so what then, are you going to do about this guy? Because it isn’t worth my time to see you, if I’ve gotta look over my shoulder, or worry about what he may or may not try to do to either of us,” he told her.
“I understand, honey,” she said. “I can admit that I didn’t go about this the right way. I will talk to him later, and tell him I can’t do any of this anymore. I need to be happy and live my live the best way I can. I will talk to you later.”
“Alright, let me know how it goes. Be safe,” he said.
Later that evening he got a phone call from her.
“Hello?” he said.
“Hey, it’s Lori. What are you doing?”
“I’m chilling, getting ready to jump in the shower and head out for the evening,” he said.
“What’s going on with you? How’d things go with Ryan?”
“Well, he wasn’t very happy about it, but he understood that he’s spent more time in the air – on flights – than with me. Plus, he couldn’t stay very long. He had a flight to Indianapolis to get on, again.”
There was a blooming silence between them for a moment.
“Would you be upset if I told you that he wanted to have sex one last time before we split apart?”
“Lori,” Eastian said. “You can do whatever you want with whomever. In fact, you can stay with that dude if you like. I’m not sure what you think you and I are leading up to, but I’m not invested in this like you are. I mean, after all that’s gone on today, and… Look, I really enjoy sex and spending time with you. You are good company and beautiful. I really like you, but you pose a risk to my peace of mind. I don’t know if this dude follows you around, or any crazy shit like that.”
“Let me put it this way. Ryan loves, or wants you more than I do. The problem you’re contending with is, I’m more available to you than he is. But you love him. That’s fine, because I’m not looking for love right now,” he said.
“I’m almost positive that the moment he gets back into town and texts or calls you, your mind will shift back to him. That’s fine and all, too. But you can’t realistically expect me to carve out a space for only you, when it’s very clear that I’m the filler material that tames the void in time for you until that asshole gets back. All that you and I can do is meet, get food, get drinks, hang out, and have sex. If you’re not cool with that, then find somebody else to do whatever you need to have done. Or, we can run with the knowledge gained today, and enjoy good sex. I can promise you that much. But your heart belongs to him, though. I don’t want or need that part of you.”
“Wow,” she said. You’re pretty damn clear about your position on things aren’t you?” she said.
“But I like that, actually. I guess I’m fine with that arrangement. So, where are you off to this evening?”
“I’m actually going on a date with someone. We’re just going to some sushi spot around the corner. She’s real cool, and very sexy like yourself. We just met. Why, are you wanting to see me tonight?” He asked.
“Well, I’d like to see you, if it’s not too late. Not like I have anything to do tomorrow,” she said, “but I’d much rather see you now. But call me, later. I might be up if you think there’s a chance you’ll make it over here.”
“Okay, that’s cool. I’ll call you around nine o’clock, and see how you’re feeling,” he said…