The night I got my job at Chrysler, me and Carlton got heavily dilated on coke and some of that fine Wine of the Century at my place. Carlton is a fine-tuned high, if you know what I mean. One snort too many and he gets kinda dreeeeamy and useless and floats around like seaweed and plastic cups, but if you hit 'em jes right he's off, and this night he was off like I ain't never seen before, bouncin' 'round and runnin' at the mouth like Mohammed Ali. He was turbocharged fartless, four-on-the-floor. You couldn't hold the boy down. He was out there in the Ohhhh-Zone. So when he said he felt like dancin', I didn't say no, natch. You gotta let the boy dance. So we hopped into his Camarro and double-timed it down to Sully's, and I swear the boy was more wired than a wonderbra. He was cranked up higher than a boom box on Friday night. Which it was. The Devil on angel droppings ain’t got nothing on Carlton when he’s coke-enhanced.
Wellll, as soon as we got past the bouncer, Carlton was racing his engine. And he didn't waste no time, either. That boy was motivated. That boy has night vision. He spied two high falutin womens all the way cross the dance floor.
"Dey's lonely," he said.
"That don't mean they lonely for us.”
"Dey is. Dey is. Dey jes doan know it yet, dat's all. Catch up wid me, Rose, and I show you how to assert your gender and insert your member."
Carlton was always callin' me Rose cuz of my name, but I wouldn't let none of the other guys get away with that shit. Wellll, he was off like one of them laser-guided missiles and I was jes coasting along for the ride, so to speak. Nothin' to lose, right? It's not like he's gonna hit somethin' and blow up. And my eyes still sort of murky, sort of infrared, cuttin' right thru all the dancers. You see some real isotonic crap out there, real love juice. Welll, the one was gorgeous, she was jes gorgeous, like a box of milky Schraft's chocolates, and the other was, well, she was there for contrast. But I muss admit she got lookin' better and even mo' better as the evening retrogressed. She was what they call a late bloomer.
Now Carlton had done started before he even got there. The boy was sorta dancin' across the floor, clickin' his fingers and strollin', and he just sort of rolled up to their table like a pimp car on cruise control. And I swear he made it up as he went along. He did. Wasn't nothin' I ever heard before. They looked up like he done interrupted heart surgery or something, and the boy jes smiled and said:
"Well I know you been waitin' a lawng time for me, sweetheart, but I have arrived, I ain't no jive, so let me jes sit down and buzz your hive. I'm feelin' allright. You're lookin' good. I’m gonna love you like a lover should. I know, I know, I unnerstand exactly where you're comin' from. It's the shock of recognition, Darlin'. You jes don't know what you're missin', Darlin'. Let me turn on your ignition, Darlin'. And I am spellin' that with a capital D because I'm right for you and you're right for me. Don't . . . don't . . . don't say a word. I know jes what you're thinkin'. Is this a Ford or a Goddam Lincoln? Let me buy. Wha' you drinkin'?"
"I'm sorry, but I don't believe . . . ." She held her hand to her throat like she was protectin' her necklace.
"I be Carlton. Like the cigarette? I'm smooth smokin' and there ain't no chokin'. Tee hee. And this here's my main man Roosevelt, named after the aircraft carrier. He might look like a farmer, but Good God doan you know he's a lover? You can't judge a book by-no-evah lookin' at the cover."
"Excuse me, but . . . ."
"Wait! Wait . . . . Jes wait . . . . Don't move a mussel. You are perfect jes the way you are. Jes the way you are. You're Venus with arms. I succumb to your charms. The fire's gettin' hotter. Let me loosen my collar." Carlton was slowin' down now, but not for lack of steam. He was jes gettin' more romantic-like. I never knew he could rhyme like that. Womens love poetry.
"So let us sit down and buy you a drink. A Pink Lady or something nice like that. Let's discuss this animal magnetism. Let's cogitate on the possibilities here. I've told you my name. What's yours? I know it's gonna be something nice. Something you could name a fine wine after. Or a boat."
"Titanic," she said.
The leftover girl smirked.
"Naw, you're puttin' me on. You ain't no sunken ship. Your name . . . ." And here Carlton looked off into the little twinkling lights on the ceiling and raised up his arm like he was Julius Caesar or something. "Your name can only be spelled with stars."
Wow! Where'd he get that from? Both girls giggled. You could tell they was tickled, and we was sittin' down, we was gettin' ready to buy 'em a drink, and if there was a turning point that evenin', I'd say that was it. "Your name can only be spelled with stars." Radical. Barry White couldn't touch it with a vibrator.
Wellll, Carlton was talkin' so good that night I didn't have to say nothin' at all. I jes looked at my girl and said, "And I feel the same way about you, too, Darlin’."
"Unh hnh," she said.
And believe it or not, we made it with those two. And wouldn't you know that Zeniqua (yeah, that was the name you could only spell with stars)— Zeniqua gave Carlton the clap so bad the boys on King Street call him Standing Ovation. And that leftover girl, Latavia, had to go and marry me. Like a ball and chain. Like a ten ton barnacle. Like a giant chunk of space junk fallin' out of the sky. And now I be a Daddy an' a number 9 bolt man, and she be one mean, ugly woman with a bark like Cujo an' a bite like a wheel clamp. It jes goes to prove, but I don't know what. I tell you true, if I ever get amnesia, jes leave me where I am. The Salvation Army would be all right with me. Life jes ain't fair. And I wasn't no way the one who done all the talkin'! It was Carlton Pitts, the poet with a plan. Carlton Pitts, rhymes with shit—the boom box with no friggin’ OFF switch. If he's still runnin' off at the mouth like a skunk with rabies, I don't know nothin' about it. The wife won't let him nowhere near this place, and that's all right with me. We got chilluns to protect. And the only coke I ingest these days comes in a can. Damn.