rosalita picked me up in her momma’s newly leased xterra.

she knocked on the front door. always looking good. slightly ridiculous because she loves to show off her belly at any expense. she looked around the place, saw there were no fresh flowers in the vase near the fireplace and smiled to herself. flowers meant that ashley had been there.

ready for bowling? she asked.

always. i got my golden ball and put it in my new bowling bag. wished i had new bowling shoes. but if kisses and wishes were nickles and dimes… i was losing it.

rosalita curled up next to me as i looked through my book bag for keys to the house. she smelled great. strawberry conditioner and a hint of perfume. giggly as hell but she has some class sometimes. i was glad to see her, to be honest. missed you. she said. i had seen her a week ago.

locked the front door, exited through the back. rosalita unlocked the doors with her remote and we climbed in. mmmmmm new car smell. i could get used to this. she said she was having problems with the cd player but it was okay. we talk so much there were only a few times i think we ever listened to one song all the way through. and that was only when we were singing along to it.

she told me that she just knew i was going to get the job i was applying for. i told her that it meant i might have to move. she said, please don’t move.

i told her that she would live without me. plus she would be able to visit me. she said that’s hardly a silver lining.

she said, if you had moved a year ago when you were offered that job, i would probably be with paco right now, living in his houseboat, cooking his food.

my stomach turned.

why would you do that?

he’s nice to me. he pays attention to me. millions of people the lord gave us in this town. i don’t think we’re supposed to be alone. or with people who are super average.

i did love rosalita. super average. she had her own language. wasn’t afraid of anything other than loneliness. somehow she picked good boyfriends and hardly ever had a clinker. how did she know who to say yes to when it seemed like she’d just say yes to the first one who didn’t completely blow.

drove down vermont to the ten headed west to santa monica. got off on fourth street. made it to pico.

perfectly good bowling alleys in hollywood, rosalita laughed. was that glitter in her lip gloss?

i knew she would try to renegotiate our situation since i kissed her last week. any time we had a good kiss she would ask me to be her boyfriend.

be my boyfriend, tony.

hadn’t even gotten to the alley. or the bar with its twenty ounce buds shaped like pins.

no thank you.

you can do whatever you want to me.

yeah, no thanks.

no seriously.

so i can get with you and your roommate?

ok, don’t be gross.

she parked the truck and we got out. two young black highschoolers were leaning up against the wall of a pet store. matching outfits. pearl white plain tshirts, thick gold rope chain, baggy shorts so long they were almost pants. white socks that folded at the ankle. gucci sneakers. venice beach gangsta chic. nwa 89, tough guys.

they stopped talking when i saw them whispering about rosalita. i hadn’t been to the wesssside in a while. for some gangs it’s disrespectful if you look down, it says you don’t believe that they’ll kick your ass. it says that you don’t believe they’re anything worthy of keeping your eye on. other gangs it’s disrespectful to keep eyecontact. they’ll snap back “what you looking at!” they want you to look away to prove their dominance.

i always looked at a black man in the eye.

fuck their juvenile thug games that only keep us down.

“who you lookin at brotha?”

most kids don’t have guns. flash the handle of yours and that’s all they need. it also doesn’t hurt to have a fake badge. especially nowadays when the toughguys wear sunglasses at night in a dirty parking lot with only one light. i reached to flash one point of my badge and the one guy said to the other five-oh and they both looked past me. not down.

we called it even and i opened the door to the bowling alley for my super hot latina date and we went straight to the bar where we belonged.

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