The Man They Called Milk Chocolate
Andy Henion
On the final day of summer, two hours after my father and his girlfriend rumbled off for a Harley festival in the Upper Peninsula, the man they called Milk Chocolate glided through our back door like an ebony ray of hope. My sister Jelly shrieked with delight. My ears warmed with envy. Milk Chocolate. Man.
I worshipped everything about him. The graceful limbs, the sculpted fro, the glistening skin, like a Hershey's bar dipped in honey. I begged him to instruct me in the ancient art of jujitsu. I wanted to become a criminal like my father, I told him, only successful. Milk Chocolate would only shake his head and flash that easy smile, and in its glow I knew the world was my harlot.
He escorted my sister to the roof and blanketed the simmering asphalt. I never knew how he got Jelly up there, but it was through him my fear dissolved. I climbed the oak that grew outside the kitchen window and crab-crawled up the opposite slope. Watching Jelly writhe under Milk Chocolate's touch was wrong, I knew, but I couldn't turn away. I mashed my pelvis into the shingles until the world whirled, then shimmied down to the edge to keep watch. Earlier that summer, my father had come home to see Milk Chocolate's bare backside hustling through the woods.
"That nigger janitor shows up here again, I'll break his neck," he said. But I saw his girlfriend make a sexy face at Jelly. She had more tattoos than my mother and none of the personality. Her favorite thing to say was that she'd never have kids. Jelly's favorite retort, under her breath, was Thank God.
I followed the scent over the peak. They lay side-by-side blowing smoke into the clouds. Jelly was crying about how she wouldn't see Milk Chocolate every day once she graduated, even though that was two years away. Then she got all serious and explained how the two of them should bolt this hick-infested swamp for an artists' colony in New Mexico. Milk Chocolate laughed and told my sister she was crazy, but in such a way that said it was a good crazy.
They finished the joint. I challenged Milk Chocolate to a little one-on-one. My sister wanted to play Scrabble and eat Doritos. When he started following me down, Jelly complained about his priorities, so he left her up there to sunburn. Before long she was standing and screaming and making obscene gestures.
"That's the last time you'll get any of this, you nasty old jig," she said.
Milk Chocolate palmed the ball and grinned, the smattering of moles on his cheeks a winking constellation. I shrugged. "You know," I said, and by that I meant, you know, That's not Jelly. He drove to his left, fluid as a ghost. I didn't know how old Milk Chocolate was, or how he kept it cool, but I knew he had the smoothest finger roll I had ever seen, even on TV, and that for the rest of the afternoon he was mine.
Andy Henion lives somewhere cold but beautiful with three females, eight legs between them. His fiction, online and print, has appeared in Spork, Ink Pot, Pindeldyboz, Hobart, Storyglossia, Thieves Jargon and elsewhere.