Authors: Tiffany McDowell
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Goes By: An Interracial BWWM Romance by Tiffany McDowell
The hundred story Signet tower hovered menacingly over
downtown Detroit, casting its shadow over the debris littered pavement.
Marg walked tentatively down the concrete steps to the
street below, her hand thrust into her purse, clutching the mace in her hand
and braving the whipping winds that wrapped their invisible icy arms around her
The chill was intolerable, and she used her free hand to
raise the scarf higher until she could sling it back around her bare neck.
Temperatures had dipped to below freezing, and the warm
cheer of bright blue skies and a blazing sun so eloquently predicted by the
local TV station had not materialized. In its place was a barrage of fierce
frozen winds and grey overcast clouds.
“Fancy meeting you here.”
The voice was vaguely familiar. She tried hard to place it,
but couldn’t. It was unrecognizable not because the voice was strange or weird,
but because the scarf was wrapped around her almost frost bitten ears, and muffled
her reception of the sounds.
She turned around and gasped in amazement at the sight of
Arnold Winston, a former city councillor that she had once approached about
solving a potential building tax problem she was having with a zoning application
for a charity she was helping out.
“Mr. Winston, how very nice to see you again.”
“Likewise, Andrea, isn’t it?”
“Actually, it’s Marg.”
“Ah yes, Marg. I used to see so many faces, hundreds a
week, actually, so while I do remember the faces, it’s hard to place the
“I guess us black voters look all the same to you white
politicians,” she said playfully, letting him know she was willing to flirt, at
least for the time being.
“Not at all. I remember you clearly because you were the
prettiest lady ever to grace my office.”
She narrowed her stunning brown eyes with the rust colored
mascara into two appreciative slats. Good compliments were where you found
them, especially in a city that had filed for bankruptcy and was always
teetering on the brink of financial annihilation. People had left in droves to
find hard to come by jobs elsewhere.
The sound of sudden barking seemed to make Arnold nervous.
“Shit! Those damn dogs again. A wild pack. They’ll bark and claw at anybody
they think might have food on them.”
Marg eyed them carefully. She counted five in all. They did
seem aggressive and rather large, with one barking incessantly, looking as
though it were actually foaming at the mouth.
“Maybe we should call animal control,” she suggested.
He shook his head from side to side. “Wouldn’t do much
good. With the recent cutbacks they only have about three animal control
officers left on staff. At one point they used to have thirty.”
“Only three animal control officers for the whole city?”
“You got it. The cutbacks have been pretty deep and
She shrugged. “Don’t I know it. I used to work as a legal
assistant in the mayor’s office, but then about six months ago, wham! The axe
came down on most of us.”
“Me as well,” he said, shrugging helplessly. “That’s why
I’m not a councillor anymore. They amalgamated the two districts to save money.
The other fellow was black and had far more black supporters living in his
riding. Go figure.”
Marg giggled and shook her head from side to side. “Sounds
like reverse discrimination to me.”
“What are you talking about?”
“Isn’t it obvious? When you white politicians win, you
claim that the best man won, but when you lose, you claim it was because you
were the wrong color.”
“Guilty as charged, I suppose,” he agreed, suddenly
enamored by her fun attitude and warm smile.
The barking got louder, and the one that seemed to be
foaming became far more aggressive.
“We should get away from these damn dogs,” he suggested.
She took out her mace and sprayed some onto the leader of
the pack. He yelped and scampered off, causing the others to reluctantly turn
and follow suit.
“That’s a neat trick,” he said, suitably impressed. “But is
it even legal?”
“Not sure. I only know that I prefer that to getting bitten
or raped. This damn city is going to the dogs, both figuratively and
“I couldn’t agree with you more. Say, I have some time to
kill. Would you like to go for a coffee or something?”
His invitation peaked her interest, but the only thing in
her purse was dust. She had been out all day job hunting and could honestly use
a coffee, and perhaps a muffin or sandwich to go with it, but only if he were
stipulating that the bill belonged to him.
“My treat, of course,” he clarified.
“Getting out of this cold before my next interview would be
rather nice,” she said, adding, “sure, why not.”
“There’s a good deli on the corner,” he said.
“Yes, I know the place, small but very charming.”
They walked side by side, exchanging pleasantries about the
bitter cold and how out of control the damn stray dogs had been getting lately,
becoming dangerous, especially for mailmen, and filling the street with stinky
“An ex what?”
“As in drug counselling?”
“No, mother. As in a city councillor, you know, like in
“You’re marrying a politician?”
“Not marrying, silly. Only dating. And it’s an
ex-politician to be precise.”
“Same thing, those political types lie and say anything and
everything to get elected. And you know what they say.”
“No, mother. What do they say?”
“Once a liar, always a liar.”
“Honestly, mother. You’re being silly. Not all politicians
are dishonest or corrupt.”
“Now you’re the one being silly, and naïve as well. Can’t
you find yourself a nice electrician or plumber? They make about fifty bucks an
hour. At least you won’t starve. But an ex-politician who is down on his luck?
Why hook up with a guy who isn’t working?”
“I am not hooking up with him mother. I merely agreed, over
a lunch which he bought, to go out with him to a hockey game on Saturday.”
“The Red Wings?”
“Hmm, well at least that’s something. A Saturday night
hockey game? Those tickets cost an arm and a leg. Some scalpers have retired
flogging those. Maybe he’s got money after all.”
“Maybe. I didn’t think to ask him.”
“Well maybe you ought to before you go investing any of
your heart into him.”
“It’s only a hockey game, mother. Besides, you know how
much of a fan I am.”
“Don’t I know it. Who are they playing?”
“The Detroit-Toronto ongoing feud. That’ll be a wild one.”
“It certainly will. I agree that they’ve got quite a
rivalry going on this year.”
“That’s for sure, but we got the edge. Toronto’s goalie
“It’ll still be a good game.”
“Probably, because you’ll be watching his dimples and big
brown eyes the whole game instead of the ice.”
“He does not have dimples, mother, and for your information
his eyes are green. He also has gorgeous blond hair flowing onto his broad
dreamy shoulders if you’re interested.”
“Green eyes? I’m definitely not interested now that you let
the cat out of the bag that he is white.”
“And what does him being white have anything to do with
“As far as I know, and you always tell me about your dates,
you have never dated a white guy in your life before this.”
“Honestly, mother. White, black, what the hell is the difference?”
“A white politician? And you’re asking me what to expect? A
guy that lied for a living and whose ancestors brought your ancestors over from
Africa in chains?”
“And black guys don’t lie? Are you kidding me? They
invented the book on how to break a heart like mine, and in case you’ve
forgotten, I’ve got a bunch of tear filled scars to prove it.”
“Fine, so all guys are alike. I’m only your mother that
spent nine months with you moving around in my belly like some damn wrestler.
If you won’t listen to me then maybe after you get a good enough dose of hurt
this time you’ll smarten up.”
“Really mother. Do you have to be so darn negative about
“About possessive liars that hide under silky blond hair
and broad dreamy shoulders? Damn right I do.”
“I’m going to hang up now mother. You’re making me feel
like absolute shit as usual.”
“Just remember what I said before you slam that receiver
down. You want to get your grasping little hands on a plumber or an
electrician. They are always in demand and they have more gold cards than
gazillionaires. I should know because I called a damn plumber to fix a leaky
faucet last week. I thought he was going to toss on a washer and tell me no
charge. Instead he can retire on the bill he gave me.”
Marg hung up and tossed herself onto the bed. She was
becoming worried about a lot of things. Her mounting debts…the bank’s refusal
to extend any more credit…or let the damn mortgage slide for yet another
month…her cherished convertible on the brink of repossession…the over two
hundred resumes she’d sent out the last month alone, with only a few interviews
to show for it. She hadn’t gone to college, and so even if she was better
qualified in the experience field, there was always that candidate for the
position that had impressive degrees from impressive schools. Normally,
education credentials wouldn’t mean squat, but in a depressed city like
Detroit, employers had far too many great applicants to choose from.
Marg rolled her eyes at the ceiling. Six fucking months
without a job? Most people lived paycheck to paycheck. The fact she had managed
to survive a full six months without any income at all spoke volumes about her
previous tenacity for saving, and her quick thinking wits. Only she was fast
reaching that crossroads where savings were running out and razor sharp wits
could no long keep the bill collectors at bay. She was down to her last
borrowed buck, as well as her last saved dime. It was now do or die time. Find
a job or kiss her condo, furniture and car goodbye. And then there was her
independence to think about. Sure, her mother had suggested a couple of times
that she merely bite the bullet and move back in with her. Move back in with
the dragon lady? That maternal, smothering, criticizing, over the hill wench
that was forever prying into her business and saying ‘I told you so,’ even when
she had said no such thing? Indeed, Marg knew only too well that most of the
mistakes she had made had only come about because her mother had suggested she
take the ill-advised plunge.
The names Harold, Vincent and Donovan quickly came to mind.
All men her mother had highly recommended, and all losers and players that had
tapped into her hard earned money and left her heart for dead…all hit and run
artists. She sighed at the thought, but then had to admit to herself that her
own judgement where men were concerned hadn’t proved any more stellar. There
had been Derrick, Paul and Randoph to name a few mistakes of her own. All black
men, and all so slippery smooth as butter with their moist handsome lips, so
warm and inviting, only…only…her eyes moistened. It was hard to believe that
she could be so shrewd and alert when it came to picking investments, but so
absolutely stupid when it came to picking her men. Still, she took a deep
breath and was determined not to be too hard on herself or her well-meaning
mother. Men were liars, regardless of their color and regardless of their
financial status. She knew that to be so because she had some close friends who
had dated rich white guys, with a few doctors and lawyers mixed in. They ended
up with no more to show for their relationships then she did. Just empty
promises, unfulfilled dreams and un-kept words swirling ominously in the four
winds. She had started dating since leaving high school but…but…she was
beginning to think that it was all about luck. Some women were lucky with their
dates, having chosen men at random who just happened to be all round nice guys.
Getting a super sweet and super sincere and super rich, handsome guy at first
pick? Why couldn’t she be so lucky? That was what fairy tales were made of. And
some of her friends had made it down that elusive aisle the very first kick at
the can. Only why, after dozens of nightmarish tries, couldn’t she?