I swallowed a burp as I read the paper. A front page news story had made me feel uneasy, I didn’t know why. It should have had no impact on me and yet…
I took the paper to Wellington who is Paula’s boyfriend and the only black person on Jersey.
“What do you make of this then?” I asked him pointing at the paper. He stared at the paper.
“Old woman gets her memories stolen?” He said.
“Not that one, this one!” I said pointing at the correct news story.
“It’s a good thing, is it?” I asked him and then I checked myself before I wrecked myself. “I mean, clearly it’s a good thing but…”
“What?” Asked Wellington.
“Well, will it help you? Do you experience racism?”
“Only here, from you,” said Wellington and he fixed me with a stare. I started laughing.
“Good one!” I laughed and he was still staring at me and I laughed harder. He was just about to do that thing where his face relaxes into a smile and he says, ‘just fuckin’ wid ya’ and we chest bump. He continued to stare and I was laughing. He was going to do the thing!
He was staring.
“Hahahah,” I was going. Do the fucking thing, I was thinking.
He was staring.
“Hahahaha,” I was going but if he didn’t do the thing soon, well, I didn’t know how long I could keep the laugh going. My eyes stopped laughing first but my mouth kept up the ho-hos.
“He was staring.
“Haha- are you fucking with me?” I asked.
“No,” he said.
“You are!” I said coyly. “Do the thing, the thing where you say you’re just fucking with me!” Wellington just stared at me. I raised my right hand ready for a high-five grasp shake but he didn’t respond. “Don’t leave me hanging!” I said and winced. Hanging. I grabbed one of Wellington’s hands that were down by his sides. “You’re alright, you are,” I said shaking his hand. “Me, a racist,” I chuckled. “Wouldn’t be doing this if I was a racist,” I added. It was clear Wellington wanted me to let go of his hand and so I did.
“So how come I’m only in this thing when there are racial issues?” Asked Wellington. “How come I wasn’t in it when you went to the funfair?”
“I’m only it in when a black man is required.”
“And you fit the bill!” What didn’t he understand?
“I could be in it when just a man is required. Just a man.”
“See…” he’d got me there.
“Thought so,” said Wellington turning back to Paula who had been standing behind her counter watching this whole exchange.
“Well…” I said. I looked at the front of the paper and read the headline again and turned on my heels, only looking up once to get my bearings, and then I walked to my counter pretending to read to paper. I bumped into something. It was Enrique. “Watch it you grea-“
“I said, watch it you grea… you great boss.”
“Dat’s-a-more like it!” Said Enrique. “Now I no call-a-da police!”
“Whatever,” I said and I muttered like Yosemite Sam as I stood behind my counter.