When I have a mood swing and my mood hits a note high enough to shatter glass. I’m closing in on shattering all glass within a mile radius. My kindergarten teacher taught me how to control my mood swings by telling me to have a third person conversation with myself.
“Life is good, isn’t it, MM?”
“Why you are MM, MM. Think about it, your first name is Martin. Your second name is Milgram, hence MM.”
“I’ve always hated the name Martin.”
“You can use your new legal name, Artin, MM. Have you thought of that? Then you would be A M. Everyone would think you’re a morning person. We both know that isn’t true.”
“That is a stupid idea. I hate mornings. Mornings were not made for the filthy rich. They were made for people who have to go to work. You have a way of popping my balloon. Forget my great mood. I forgot all about work. Help me out, I’ll be at work in ten minutes. My ebony goddess is waiting for me. I want to take her something special. Something, when she looks at it, she’ll melt and see me as the most sensitive, caring, male she’s ever known. She’ll throw herself into my arms and we’ll have office sex.”
“MM, at times, you’re even too weird for me and I’m you. Here’s my idea.”
I gave the keys and twenty to the valet. Walked into the lobby, waved at Joe Maples, security. He didn’t wave back, He glanced and me and the bag I was carrying. “It’s a gift for J. Is she waiting for me? Did she tell you that she placed me at the top of her list as her most admired man in the world? I believe I’m now number one on the speed dial of her throw away phone.”
Joe Maples stared, not a muscle twitched. His right hand rested on his gun. I stopped and waited for a response. He finally broke the stoney façade, “Hurry, or you’ll miss your elevator.”
He must have agreed with everything I said because he didn’t disagree with anything I said. I attended one logic class and then hired someone to take my place for the next fourteen weeks and take the final exam. I have a difficult time thinking logically. As I walked across the lobby, I diverted my eyes from Genevieve Loomis’ eyes. I think Genevieve, Grandmother Houston, and Mother all hired the same artist to paint them. The artist gave each of them the same set of eyes that look as if they were taken from a feral cat stalking a rat. It probably took the artist longer to paint the fifteen story portrait of the old broad than it did for Michelangelo to paint the Sistine Chapel.
Today, I dressed for success. I left no stone unturned. I decided to pull out all the stops to hit everyone of J’s love buttons. When I reached the bank of elevators, the suits, that’s what I call the people who take work seriously like it is really important, all scooted away from me and quickly moved toward an elevator and the far end of the bank of elevators. They couldn’t handle my unbridled optimism, my joyful exterior, and a heart playing Schubert’s symphony in C major. The elevator in front of me opened. I waved to the suits, no one waved back. I stepped into the empty elevator. “The twenty-first floor,” I said to the elevator. The doors began to close. The moment before they closed, a broom handle wedged itself in causing the closing doors to come to a screeching halt. The doors slowly retreated into the sides of the elevator. Carlos the custodian pushed his custodian wagon into elevator compartment.
“Buenos dias, amigo,” said Carlos. I made a mental note to learn Mexican or is Spanish? He gave me a wide five brown stained teeth with two golden teeth grin.
I didn’t want Carlos to know I didn’t understand what he said. Mother taught me to never admit to the lower class you don’t know something they know. She said there were no exceptions. I had no choice but to answer him in Spanish. I said, “Fajitas and nachos.” These are words I learned at a Mexican restaurant.
“How did you know what I had for dinner last night? You are one smart hombre?”
There he goes again tossing a Spanish word at me. My mind raced for Spanish words. I needed a comeback and I needed it fast. We were on the tenth floor and apparently going non stop to the twenty-first floor because Carlos likes my company. My brilliant mind flashed with the name of a fast food Mexican restaurant. I said, “Thanks, Carlos. I am one loco pollo.”
I don’t know what I said, but it must have been perfect, because Carlos started laughing, and said, “You are one crazy chicken, señor. I like you even though I don’t know your name. You got a good sense of humor.”
I said, “Thanks, Carlos. I go by the name Double M or MM whichever is easier to remember.”
“It sounds like a name you picked up as a kid in a gang. You still a gang banger?”
Me? In a gang? I know I have a dashing, rugged, go for it all look that only one woman in the entire world can resist. And, in a few minutes, my black goddess will fall under the spell of Double M. I like the sound of it. I’m going to have Parvobone or whateve the lawyer’s name is get the sign on the door changed. I don’t know anything about gangs except the stuff I see on television or in a movie. I don’t read books, so I can’t add that one.
I nodded and said, “Carlos, there are things in my life I can’t talk about. Names, I can’t divulge. Gang signs I’ve sworn not to reveal, and tattoos that are covered for security reasons.”
“Man, you must have been in one of the bad gangs. Sometimes the guys who don’t look like they are bad asses are the baddest asses, know what I mean? You still active? You know. You doing drive-by shootings. Pimping? Running drugs?”
Was Carlos telling me I didn’t look like a bad ass? Did he give me a clue how to win J’s heart without knowing it. Did I have to learn how to be a bad ass to win J’s approval?
Since I was lying, I decided to make it one even I might believe. I said, “I was an active gang member until a year ago. I made a vow to my mother to lead a good life when she was lying on her deathbed. She held my hand and said, “Double M, please stop being a bad ass gangbanger. Marry one of the girls you’re pimping.” She said these words. I nodded at her and kissed her forehead, and she died.” The lie flowed from my lips like honey on hot summer’s day. It was sweet, simple, and I believed every word of it. I really need help.
Carlos blessed himself with the sign of the cross four different times. He said, “Double M, you are like a saint walking the Earth. I need you to pray for my friend Paco who is on trial for car theft. He can’t do any more time. He gets convicted, he’s going in the slammer for life. He’s already got four convictions and seven deportations. Even Mexico doesn’t want him back.
Me, a saint? Wait until I tell J what Carlos said. On second thought, I better not. I think she’d prefer to make love to a bad ass former gangbanger than a saint. I made a mental note to ask Oscar to tell me how to be a badass and to bring me up to speed on being a former gangbanger.
The elevator announced the twenty-first floor. Carlos and I fist bumped. I looked at him and said, “Don’t worry about Paco. I got him covered.”
“Man, you are the best, Double M. You are the best.”
I smiled and walked into the corridor. I congratulated myself on being the best. No doubt about it. I am the most sensitive, kind, compassionate, and wonderful human being on this planet. A tiny sliver of doubt popped in my mind, what if Paco is found guilty and sent to prison for life. I had to call Pettibone and ask him to take care of Paco’s problem. I opened the door to the office and my black Venus was behind her desk. Oh my, I felt dizzy. I placed my left hand against the door jam to steady myself. What can I say? My black goddess was wearing an off the shoulder black casual top that was a size too small for her. I think I was having an atrial flutter.
“Get a grip,” said J.