Frenemies

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Authors: L. Divine
gently rubbing his head.
    â€œWhat?” Rah says, turning down the volume slightly to hear my price. He looks like he’s enjoying the impromptu massage. Mama likes the way I rub her hair when I braid it, too. She taught me that trick. It stimulates the scalp and relaxes the client before you start pulling the braids into place.
    â€œY’all will have to wait while I change. I’ve been working all day, and I need a quick shower,” I say as we pull away from my job, heading toward Inglewood. The sun’s beginning to set, and all the freshly washed cars on the streets are starting to glisten.
    â€œNo problem, Queen Jayd,” Rah says, giving me a sly wink. “What happened to your arm?” The burn’s physical mark is almost gone. But the psychological pain is still with me.
    â€œI had a dream,” I say, removing my hand from his head and staring out my window, allowing the bass to massage my forehead.
    â€œOh,” Rah says, not pushing me further. There’s no need to; he already has a vivid idea of what I’m going through. He’s always been so patient and understanding, almost making me forget how much he hurt me back in the day. But he’s always been a good friend.
    Â 
    After a quick shower and change, Rah takes us back to his house for our braid session before the real one begins. I miss braiding his soft hair. It shines like granite with the coconut oil Mama and I made some time ago. I love the way it smells, and it’s the perfect texture for braiding. I use it for my cornrows all the time.
    â€œI miss being in between your legs,” he says, being a little too descriptive for me.
    â€œShut up, fool. Why you gotta be nasty about it?” I say, smacking Rah in the head and making him laugh. But he can feel I miss braiding his hair, too.
    â€œRah, Trish is here,” Kamal says. Before Rah can get up, Trish is through the door with Nigel’s girlfriend, Tasha, right behind her. I saw a picture of all them together in last year’s yearbook.
    â€œWhat’s up, Jayd?” Trish says, sounding hella faded. She smells like she’s been drinking all day, and she’s got a blunt in her hand. This can’t be good. It’s almost eight, and Mickey and Nigel should be rolling up soon, adding more shit to the mix. I need to call and warn Mickey.
    â€œWhat the hell are you doing here?” Rah says, answering for me. “I told you I was busy tonight, Trish.” He doesn’t move from his cozy spot on the floor, his now completely cornrowed head between my thighs. I know these bourgie-ass girls don’t know how to braid.
    â€œI came to see what was so important you couldn’t pick me up from my nail appointment. And now I know,” Trish says, flinging her long, curly black hair over her shoulder and giving me hella attitude. Why are there heffas everywhere I go?
    â€œJayd’s braiding my hair before the session. So what?” Rah says. One thing about Rah is that he never breaks his cool. Getting caught ain’t no big deal to him, because he rarely gets caught in a full lie. He’s a professional at evading the truth without incriminating himself. Speaking of criminal activity, I need to warn Mickey before she and Nigel walk in, setting Trish and Tasha completely off.
    â€œWhat’s the big deal?” Trish says, raising her drunken voice, making Kamal run for cover. I guess he’s used to her going off. She actually reminds me a lot of Rah’s mom, who’s rarely here. “The big deal is this bitch is your ex-girlfriend, and I’m tired of seeing her ghetto ass over here, that’s what.” Oh, no, this bitch didn’t just call me a bitch.
    â€œWhy you gotta go there, Trish? Jayd, I’ll be right back. Don’t go anywhere,” he says, pointing toward the back door and marching Trish out of the studio with Tasha right behind her before I have a chance to go off.

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