To Roy. I thought of you when I wrote this.
I wear your pin faithfully.
11:38 PM: OINKS PARKING LOT
“You’re the baddest bitch on the block! Act like it! You hear me?” Lyrical shouted at her younger sister, Monrovia, through the phone.
Monrovia Galen, or “Bia” as people called her, sat parked in front of the Piggies Liquor Barn & Market with tears streaming down her cheeks. She couldn’t believe the way things had gone tonight. Never in a million years had she ever imagined that she’d be in this situation.
“I don’t feel like it, Lyr,” she said, looking into the pull-down mirror.
She was missing an eyelash, and a trail of mascara ran straight through her foundation. Her hair was laid as always because she didn’t play when it came to her long, deep purple tresses. It had been her signature color since the seventh grade. At just twenty-two, Bia stood a mere five feet five inches, her chestnut brown eyes were now red in the whites and spilling over as she thought about what had transpired hours ago.
Sighing as she painfully removed the lash, she listened to Lyr tell her how none of this was her fault. Bia didn’t believe it, though. She didn’t believe it at all. Reaching in her center console, she grabbed a pack of wipes and began slowly cleaning her face as she prepared to run in and get a bottle of Famous Hal’s Peach Passion Vodka.
“… If anything, I can pull up. You know how we rocking on my side,” Lyr threatened.
“Let me see how I feel after a few drinks.” Bia laughed.
Lyrical, twenty-nine, was Bia’s older sister from her father’s first marriage. She was the one who gave her the name Bia. Lyrical had a speech problem that made the pronunciation of Via sound like Bia.
The duo grew up on different sides of the track. They weren’t really close due to their mothers’ beef. When the pair finally got brains of their own, they put their mothers’ problems to the side and vowed to always be there for each other no matter what. That’s what sisters were for, and Bia knew Lyr would really wreck some shit behind her. #YKHWR was their motto. “You Know How We Rocking” meant that no matter what they would be rocking heavy behind each other. No nigga, bitch, persons, or motherfucka would be put before the other. They’d remain solid at all times and be down to do whatever for the other. Something Lyr did her best to instill in her little sister.
Wiping away the last trace of makeup, she tossed the wipe out the window.
“Look, Lyr, I’m at Oinks, about to get a bottle. I’ll call you back in a few minutes.”
“There you go about to buy that cheap shit. Gone head, girl, but don’t be blowing my line when your face is two inches away from the toilet.” With that said, Lyr hung up.
Laughing because that was most likely going to be the outcome of the night, she shook her head. Checking herself in the mirror again she rolled the windows up.
Pulling up to Piggies, Ascari Pine, better known as Cari searched the large parking lot for a space. Unable to find one near the entrance to the twenty-four- hour market, he slowly scanned the area until he spotted a spot at the far end of the lot.
Pulling up and backing into the spot, Cari leaned forward and began to manually roll up the window to his Candy Coated Blue Mustang. As he did that, he could hear the woman in the car next to his on the phone.
“…don’t be blowing my line when your face is two inches away from the toilet.”
Cari laughed then opened his door. At the exact same moment, the woman next to him opened hers too. Both struck each other’s vehicles. Cari cringed, hoping the woman didn’t scratch his paint. The car was a classic and held a lot of sentimental value to him. He only brought it out once a year, maybe twice depending on the occasion.
“Sorry.” A head full of deep purple curls appeared.
“My bad.” Cari got out and with everything inside him he wanted to check the paint job but didn’t want to seem rude. So instead he locked the car and headed for the market.
As he walked towards the store, he kept glancing at the woman who was now walking beside him. She was short as hell, and her rich dark skin glowed under the streetlights and the huge glowing pink Piggy that read Oink. As they made it towards the door, Purple Hair kept looking over at him like there was a problem.
“Welcome to Piggies. We’re having a sale on all liquor today, buy one get one free for equal or lesser value,” the greeter said as Cari grabbed a hand basket.
The purple haired woman did the same thing. Being here a million and one times, Cari knew exactly what he wanted and where it was at. Making a beeline straight for Aisle 9, he couldn’t help but laugh as Purple hair rolled her eyes at him.
“All that anger in that little bitty body,” he continued with her still next to him.
“What was it?” She snapped her neck in his direction.
“What you mad for, shorty?”
“Shorty?” She looked up at him with rage, and all he could do was stare down at the beauty that stood before him.
“If I knew your name, I’d call you by it,” he fished.
“No, thank you.” She walked past him and he shrugged then turned around to head for Aisle 9.
“Damn, you following me?” Her attitude was off the charts as they both turned down Aisle 9.
“Don’t flatter yourself,” Cari muttered, walking in front of her and heading straight towards Famous Hal’s Peach Passion Vodka. As his hands connected with the bottle, Purple hair snaked her lips.
“Damn, do I know you? What’s the problem, Shorty?”
“Ain’t no way in hell you came in here for this, so hand it over,”
“Bossy.” He placed the bottle in his basket. “Try the Pineapple Papaya, you’ll be straight.” Cari tried to leave. Bia couldn’t believe how casually this man put the vodka in his basket and tried to walk off. She stopped him with a fresh set planted right in the middle of his chest.
“You don’t understand. I need that bottle,” Bia tried to explain, but he wasn’t hearing it.
The bare-faced, boyish looking slim framed man grabbed her small hand and removed it from his body.
“You should have walked a little faster.”
“I’ll give you twenty dollars,” Bia begged. “I need that bottle.”
“No.” He side stepped her, leaving Bia upset. All she wanted was her drink.
“I’ll give you $50. How about it, Slim?” Bia shouted, grabbing a nasty ass Pineapple papaya bottle and following out the aisle.
“You can’t make me change my mind.” He tossed a bag of Doritos in his basket then headed for the register.
All the while grabbing and tossing things in the small basket, he kept telling her no. Giving up, she stood behind him in line and she wanted to do nothing more but punch him in the neck.
“Ring hers up too.”
The man behind the counter stood there waiting on Bia to place her bottle and the bag of gummy bears she had on to the conveyor belt.
“I can pay for my own.” She rolled her eyes.
“It’s buy one get one free. If you don’t put that shit on the belt.”
Sighing, she placed her two items on the belt and watched them being scanned. The man put the items in a separate bag and handed them over to her. Slim pulled out a wad of cash, paid and dipped for the door. Bia slowly walked behind him, trying to give him enough space. She didn’t want him to think getting her the bottle was going to get him anything else.
Tucking his bag under his arm, Slim looked back at her, “Damn, you following me now?”
That caused Bia to burst into laughter as they both reached their cars. Extending his arm,he waved her past him so she could get into her car then began unlocking his own.
Getting in, Bia placed the nasty ass liquor on the passenger seat then shut the door. Just as she was about to start the car, there was a knock on the window.
“What?” she said, reaching in the console but never taking an eye off Slim.
Fumbling around, she found her pepper spray and felt safe as the man looked at her.
“Roll the window down.” He chuckled, but Bia found nothing funny.
“I can hear you fine.”
“Don’t nobody wanna take you, not with that attitude. But look, you wanna hit the bottle before we depart? You must really want it, and I know I’m not drinking the whole thang.”
He dangled the bottle in front of her. “You can even break the seal and pour your own.”
“Why?” Bia cautiously eyed the handsome man.
“You wouldn’t believe me if I told you. Now you want a drink or not? I got cups in the trunk.”
Bia opened her door and placed her legs outside the car while Slim handed her the bottle. Her door was blocking his way to the trunk, so he walked around his car.
Walking around the car, Cari smiled thinking about the sign he was just given. He couldn’t wipe the smile away no matter how much he tried.
Unlocking the trunk, he opened it to reveal a picnic basket eating supplies and a blanket. Dropping in the bag filled with snacks he grabbed two cups and closed it. Locking it he came back around the car and to see Purple sparking up a Wood. The loud smell invaded the air as he handed her a cup. Passing the Wood to him, he took a hit then opened his driver side door. He sat down with his legs out.
The way they were parked their doors had them boxed in so there was nothing but a small space between them.
“So, let me be the judge.” Purple smiled as she exhaled a thick cloud of smoke.
“Judge of what?” Cari took the wood and held his cup out.
Purple poured him half a cup then closed the bottle and stuck it in her car. Cari made a note to get his shit back before they left. Purple wasn’t slick at all.
“If I’m going to believe it or not. So lay it on me.” She reached for the wood.
Passing it back, Cari studied Purple. The shirt she was wearing hung past her knees, and her shorts were hiding under it. She wore a pair of Doc Martins that were tagged up with shades of purple and white.
“You see something you like?”
The slickness of her comment made him chuckle.
“Do you?” he fired back.
“Yeah, so you gonna tell me or not, Slim?” She passed the loud back then sipped her drink.
Cari didn’t really feel comfortable talking about his life with strangers but figured he’d never see Purple again, so he took a drink of the vile liquor. Cari hated Famous Hal’s but would drink it twice a year.
“You ever got a sign from Heaven?” he asked, feeling a little crazy.
“I have, so what was the sign?” She ripped open the bag of gummy bears and poured some in her hand.
Shaking them she popped them in her mouth. Cari found the dice shaking motion cute.
“I feel like my mother wanted me to talk to you.”
“Oh, sorry,” Purple said with a look Cari knew well.
Everyone always looked sad when they found out his mother was no longer with him. Hitting the weed once more, he handed it back.
“Don’t be. I felt she wanted me to talk to your mean ass.”
“What made you feel that way?” She put the wood out and began to give him her full attention.
Cari smiled and spoke the words that had given him chills as he walked away from her earlier, “Slim, how about fifty?” He laughed then turned to look at the pin hanging on the rearview mirror.
Looking at the pin, he smiled. It was a photo of him and his mother on his last birthday they shared. They had a bottle of Famous Hal’s Peach Passion. It was his twenty-first birthday, and he shared a drink with her. She never knew he was a henny only type of nigga but nonetheless he took the bottle and drunk it with her. It was her favorite drink and he could remember the countless times he’d see her and her girls at the Spades table drinking it. For the past three years, he’d pick up a nasty ass bottle and have a picnic with her while drinking. He did the same on Christmas and it wasn’t Christmas.
“My mother called me Slim, and when she wanted me to do something I didn’t like she’d always say, ‘How about it, Slim?’”
Bia felt a chill as Ascari mentioned his mother. It made her feel weirdly connected to the stranger. She had also lost her mother and believed in signs just like that. He wasn’t crazy at all in her eyes.
“Why do you keep making that face?” She shook the gummies in her hand like dice then popped a few in her mouth.
“This shit nasty.” He took another drink.
“The way you took the last bottle, I’d think you’d love the shit.” She rolled her eyes.
“Nah, I got a bottle of Henny after we finish this shit.” He chuckled. “My mom was addicted to this shit.“ He finished off the cup.
Bia watched as he turned around and began reaching for something. With her free hand, she grabbed her mace. Turning back towards Slim, she waited to see what he was gonna do.
Producing a button, he handed it over to her. He was dressed in a purple button up with white jeans and a bottle of Famous Hal’s. Next to him was his mother. She was stunning with long, flowing hair and a smile like none other Bia felt heartbroken. Reading the death date. It was three years ago today.
“I’m sorry.” She paused, realizing she still had yet to ask his name.
“So, why did you need the bottle so bad, Purple?” He got out and headed into the trunk.
Bia couldn’t see what he was doing, but when he returned he produced a picnic basket. Opening it, he pulled out a sandwich then sat the basket between them.
Unwrapping the sandwich he took a bite then scooted the basket closer to her with his foot. Bia lifted the top with her finger and smiled at the fresh fruit and cheese.
“It’s Monrovia, but you can call me Bia.” She grabbed the tray of fruit.
“Ascari, but you can call me Cari. So what’s the story behind the bottle?”
“You ain’t gonna believe it.” Bia laughed, feeling like this was her sign too.
Bia and her mother both loved the peach flavored drink. In fact, her mother put her on to the drink at sixteen. She thought that if her daughter was going to drink, she might as well do it with her.
“It’s my mother’s favorite drink.” She blushed, feeling connected.
“Bullshit.” He chuckled.
Cari felt a chill when Monrovia confessed that. He watched as she opened the tray of fruit and pulled out a slice of pineapple. Taking a bite, the juice dripped down her lip. She quickly licked it away. Monrovia was beautiful, and he was going to make sure to ask for her number if the vibe was right.
“SWEAR!” She giggled taking another bite.
“And let me guess. Your favorite color is purple too?” he said sarcastically.
“And is.” She cheesed.
“Back to the bottle.” He took a bite of his BLT with extra mayonnaise and gave her his full attention.
“My fiancé cheated on me with my boss.” She picked up a grape and popped it in her mouth. “This bitch had me working overnight, and I only found out because I got sick and had to go home. When I made it there, I noticed her car parked in my driveway. Can you believe that shit?”
Cari felt bad for her and was glad he decided to share his bottle with her.
Monrovia began to cry as she thought about it. Just a few hours ago, Bia was sitting behind the desk at the Grand Plaza Hotel checking in a guest when she became violently ill. Sweat poured from her forehead, and she had the sharpest of pains in her abdomen. Something was wrong. After a few minutes of the pain, she asked her other boss if she could clock out early. Her shift would be over soon anyway.
The whole drive home, the pain remained until she pulled up to the house she had been renting. Parked outside were two cars, both she knew. The thing was she confused about was both cars being there. Before she knew it, her fingers were hitting the call button.
“Lyr, you got bail money?” Bia asked, grabbing her mace out of her console.
“I’m on my way. Drop the location, baby,” Lyr Responded.
“Nah, I got this. Just know I’m about to beat a bitch ass. Have that money ready.”
Bia tied her hair up then exited her car, not bothering to lock it. She walked straight up to her house and let herself in. Following the sound of Slutty Cyn’s moans, she walked into her bedroom which was wide open and started spraying both of them while covering her face with her arm.
The pair was so caught off guard that they didn’t even see it coming. Blind and choking, the pair clawed at the sheets trying to stop the burning sensation in their eyes. As they squirmed around, Bia ripped the HDMI cord out of her laptop that was connected to the tv and began swinging it at both of them.
Swish! The sound of the thick cord cutting through the air only made Bia more excited. The lashing she was giving out was one for the books as Greg hopped out of the bed. Blindly he ran into the wall and tried to exit the room. Bia followed him though the house as he knocked photos and other trinkets off the wall. She didn’t give a fuck though. She continued swinging with all her might.
After chasing Greg out the house butt-ass-naked, Bia locked the door and decided it was Cyn’s turn. Going into the kitchen, she grabbed a pot and filled it with cold water. She could hear Cyn still crying about the burning in her eyes.
The bitch was on fire and needed a cool down, Bia thought, taking the pot of water into the bedroom. Dumping it on Cyn, she bopped her in the head with the pot.
A loud ding echoed through the room. Picking the cord up, she started swinging again. Instantly welts began to appear on her body. Dropping the cord Bia dragged the bitch to the front yard where Greg stood with the water hose blasting his eyes.
Not saying a word, she shut the door and went to the cabinet to get a drink. To her surprise, the bottle was on its last little swig. Tilting it back, she let the last remaining liquor slide down her throat as the pair started banging on the door asking for their shit. Bia made her way to the room and grabbed both their phones and keys then walked into the backyard. Launching one set of keys into one neighbors yard she did the same with the other then the phones.
Making it back into the house, she yelled hoping they could hear what she had to say, “Y’all better go find y’all shit. I tossed them in the neighbors’ backyard.” She went to shower and change into something. As she showered the pain in her abdomen was gone. She took that as a sign and got out. After getting dressed and doing her makeup, she found herself sitting in the parking lot of Piggies crying her eyes out. Her wedding was a month away.
“Shit, I feel bad for keeping the bottle now.” Cari let out an awkward chuckle, not knowing what to say.
“That was my mama, I know it was. I seen her do my step daddy like that before.” She laughed hearing the pot echo in her head.
“It looks like our mothers are up there hanging out,” Cari said and Monrovia agreed.
“This is going to sound a little crazy, but would you come with me to see my mother? I just wanna have a drink with her then maybe hang out with you.”
Bia looked him in the eyes while biting and slurping the juice up off a piece of watermelon. Looking him in his eyes she felt at peace around him so she gave in and told him, “Let’s Go.”
“Bet, it’s down the way over on Cooper Road,” Cari said and Monrovia took that as another sign. Her mother was buried there too.
“That’s crazy. I guess I’ll have a drink with my mother too.” She smiled brightly, looking at the sky.
There were three cemeteries, and his mother was at the same one hers was at. This was a sign, she knew it. Swiping up the rest of the fruit, she set it in her passenger seat with the two bottles as Cari picked up the basket and put it in his passenger seat.
“I’ll follow you.” Bia shut her door and waited for Cari to make his exit. Following behind him she cut the music up to hear Aaron May’s “In Love.” As the words played, she thought about all the years she had given Greg. They were childhood friends that turned into high school sweethearts. After prom, Greg popped the question and the pair had been together ever since.
Pulling to a stoplight, Cari bobbed his head and rapped to Aaron May’s “In Love.” It was something so pure and raw about the song. Pulling beside him, he could hear Monrovia doing the same. Catching eye contact, the pair both got louder and finished out the song together at the stoplight. To others it might have looked crazy, but to them it was all a vibe.
Cari was feeling Monrovia and hoped to see more of her after this. As the light turned green, the pair pushed on for two more miles until they got to Cooper Road. Cari entered first with Monrovia trailing behind. Pulling up to marker twelve, he shut the car off. In his rear view mirror he watched as she got out with the liquor and walked right up to his mother’s grave.
“What the fuck?” he said in a slow draw.
Monrovia hopped out the car with the bottle of liquor tucked under her arm and fruit in one hand. She kicked her door closed and headed to her mothers resting place. Dusting off debris, she set the bottle down then took a seat Indian style.
“What’s up, Ma? Long time no see. Sorry about that.” She took a bite of pineapple and started talking until she heard Cari approaching. “Do you mind? This is personal.”
“I was going to say the same thing,” he took a seat beside her and placed the basket between them. “What are the odds both of our mothers are buried beside each other?”
They both got chills.
Laughing it off, Bia smiled, “I guess they were having that drink after all.” She extended her hand out to him.
Grabbing it, they sat there talking for what seemed like forever. As the sun came up, the basket full of food became empty and that bottle of Henny Cari had was half full.
Looking down at Bia, who was asleep with her head in his lap, he looked over at his mothers headstone and smiled. Thanking her for sending Bia at the right time, he watched as a tiny ladybug landed on her nose.
“I love you, Ma.” Cari shed a tear, knowing for a fact his mother Tamika Ladybug Pine was there with him.
Five years later
With a picnic basket in hand and his four-year-old-son on his back, Ascari and Monrovia Pine approached their mothers’ resting places. They couldn’t believe it had been five whole years since they met at Piggies Liquor Barn and Market. Cari was glad he took each sign his mother sent down to him. From Bia and him sharing a love for the color purple, to the drink, and even the ladybug. He was thankful for it. He was lonely, and depressed with nobody to run to, and God blessed him with his best friend Bia right on time.
Shortly after meeting, the pair made it official and moved into Monrovia’s house. Everyone around them called them crazy, but they were in love and following the signs. Three months later, Bia became pregnant and they tied the knot at the courthouse a few days after that with Lyrical and Cari’s best friend as witnesses. Nine months later, they welcomed Ascari Ethan Pine, Jr., into the world. At 7lbs., 2 oz., he was their world and only brought them closer.
“Slim, pass me some Skittles.” Bia plopped down in a pair of biker shorts and her favorite graphic tee.
Cari let Jr get down and got his wife the Skittles. Ripping the corner of the pack, she shook a few out into her hand and began rattling them like dice. Cari laughed thinking back to the night she shook her gummies like she was going to hit her point.
“I know I say it every year, Slim, but it’s true. Our moms wanted this. Someway, somehow, this was supposed to happen. Happy Birthday, babe, I love you.” She tossed back the candy then started to pour their drink as she thought about meeting Cari on Aisle 9.
“To love, signs, and forever.” Cari’s face twisted as he took a drink of the nasty Peach Passion Vodka.
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