to leave Andi and our argument at the table to walk a few paces toward him. I should have hailed him out and asked after the mad swinging of his door. Anyone who knew Gregory knew how much he treated anyone swinging open or hard-shutting his car doors like a lamentation. I now wish that even if he may not have heard me as he got back into his driver’s seat, carefully closing the door, he might have sensed some uncannily familiar presence as he drove of . I might have seen Gregory laughing in his rear-view mirror. I might have seen someone in the passenger seat whose shape I likely could not make out no matter the ef ort I would put into this seeing. And as the car moved into traf c, I might have had a thing to say about this person’s polished, heavily ringed hand flying backward and forward, and I might have seen a few things more as they went out of sight.
All of this somehow made it into the police report.
Gregory, an intense man, those who knew him might say, had been pressed into rigidity by the half-forgotten landscape of his older life. He had left his family on some island waiting as he accumulated, in the arteries of the metropolis, many things worth numbers less than zero. He had come from what most people viewed as nothing. The tough plantation life, now only memory, of a now-mythic Caribbean. He would often say Sara was the most human part of his life, and he longed for her warmth well before he could clock out at all odd hours. But leave me to the small rooms of my relinquishing. We are so much alike, Gregory and I. We even look alike. We could be brothers, though most of what we are is that we love the same woman. And now he’s as remote and distant from my present as a forgotten age when gold coins passed for legal tender.
Before the restaurant on King Street that night, Andi and I shared a whisky at my place and then called Gregory to make plans for after his shift. The driver who picked us up to take us to the restaurant wore blistered lips, still smiling like a thing too fam- iliar with cold, cold air.
“King Street,” Andi said, texting wildly on her phone. The driver just nodded, turned the volume way up on Coltrane’s “Venus,” and drove of .
“Anywhere you say,” Gregory would have answered. But we hadn’t seen Gregory since last weekend at Sara’s house—not at Gregory’s, the halflegal refugee who couldn’t afford lodging on his own terms—and Andi made a joke about the blessing of Coltrane’s obnoxious sax giving us a chance to plan how we would bring up Sara’s newest failed pregnancy to Gregory and why I would do the job if Gregory couldn’t. We could be ignorant, apathetic motherfuckers sometimes, but this wasn’t one of those times. I would do things for Gregory that I would do for nobody else. I’d have a child I did not want if that would help mend the ravages of what he believed was his failed manhood. Even if I knew he could not be convinced to accept any such help from me, I was willing to invent that future.
We left that first restaurant nearing eleven and decided to walk a few blocks south through the half-heavy air of the city. We decided we might as well hit up that after-hours underground restau- rant for tropical cocktails, the downtown’s best-kept