“We’re going way back, there was this guy, lived in my neighborhood in Queens where I grew up, called him The Prophet. His real name was Frankie. Big guy, brawny guy, you know?” Ad puffed up his chest and squared his shoulders to demonstrate “big guy”. “Anyway, he wasn’t just a hunk of flesh, Frankie, he was called The Prophet because he had these visions. Now, I don’t know if he was taking something or just naturally fucked up, but when he talked about his dreams, he was prophetic about it, you know what I mean? Like, all dramatic and eloquent and elaborate and detailed and… like deep. He was a seriously good story teller and he had this way of sharing information that made it feel epically important.”
He sipped the too-hot coffee and burnt his tongue, “shit that’s hot.”
“So did The Prophet tell you something that you want to tell me?” Mohave got impatient with Ad’s stories. Unlike this prophet of his, Ad’s flare for detail was often overzealous, unorganized and unnecessary. At the best of times, she could tune him out. They’ve been friends long enough that he couldn’t fault her for it either.
“Chill out, sister, I’m getting to it. I’m serious, this has to do with you. I’m dead fucking serious here.” He took a sip of her diet coke without asking. She just watched, lowering her shoulders a little out of frustration.
“I have better things I could be doing right now.”
He smiled his trust-me-sister-you’re-gonna-fucking-love-this-shit smile. His bottom teeth were tightly packed on one side, giving his grin a half-cocked quirky, kinda cuteness. And as ever, she fell prey to it. They both knew it too. He smiled wider, she rolled her eyes. “Get on with it then” she rolled her hand at the wrist in front of his face, gesturing the pace she’d prefer.
“You know the thing I like best about you, Mo?” He stared stupidly, expecting her to answer.
She stared stupidly back, expecting him to answer. Then frustrated, she slammed her fist into the table and began to pull herself out of the diner booth when Ad put his pale white fingers against her desert-burnt wrist. “You don’t take any of my bullshit too seriously. I like that about you.”
“At least you admit it’s bullshit, then.” She sat back down and took her diet coke back and took a sip.
“I like that you don’t take what I say too seriously. I know I never have to worry about you worrying about me, you know? That’s most of the time anyway. This time, this is serious and I need you to listen, okay?” Sitting back he licked his lips and looked over the dirty table at her.
“Don’t give me your gangsta dealing face, Ad, I’m not making any deals with you. I’m not…”
Ad lent forward on the table to cut her off. No grin. No smirk. No tongue and no cheek. He looked her deep down. She could feel his heart pounding from across the empty plate of ketchup-soaked fries and it sent a wave of shivers down her spine. “Fine.” She crossed her arms and sat up in the booth attentively. “What did your prophet prophesize, then?”
“Before I tell you what The Prophet told me, I have to tell you about this dream I had the other night when I stayed over your place, remember last Thursday, when we drank those sick rum and coke jobs that Telly made? That was the worst drink I’ve ever had.”
She flared her nostrils as she breathed out through them, making a soft huffing noise; like a flameless dragon, he thought.
“Okay, okay. The dream, right? I was walking down this really straight road in the desert. There were double yellow lines on the road and to my right, I think, there was this huge mesa plateau thing, right? Anyway, it was like where I imagine you grew up, in the desert. So I was walking down this road and there was someone behind me. He was huge! I guess he was following me. He was 100 yards behind me, or some distance like that. I don’t really know distances that well anyway. So we’re walking and I’m itching to get away from this guy when all of a sudden this hot red mustang blurs past and there’s a cloud of red smoke from all the clay and dust and stuff. I felt myself choking on it.
“I thought that was going to be the end of the dream. I actually thought, in the dream, right, this is the end of the dream. But it wasn’t. I heard a THUD!” For dramatic effect, Ad slammed his palms down on the table top and spooked the elderly couple walking past. The old woman shook her head disapprovingly at him and kept on walking past.
“Sorry. So, thud, right? Then I could see the car in the distance. I really wanted to get away from this guy behind me so I hauled ass and ran for the car. Guess who was driving the thing?” he grinned and lent back.
“That’s a hard one, Ad, me.”
“Yeah, you were. You blew out a tire. That’s where the thud came from, obviously. I catch up with you. You’re changing the tire, cool as ice, obviously.”
“I help get the blew out into the trunk and get in the car with you and as we drove off I realized that the guy was gone. But then I also realized who he was…”
“The Prophet.” She played along with his pantomime story telling style for the sake of momentum.
He stopped. Mohave lent forward, widening her eyes in astonishment that he’d be content with “yep” as an ending to a story with absolutely no bearing on anything other than Ad’s own admiration for his vocabulary. “Okay, I’m leaving now.” She got up, took a twenty out of her jeans’ pocket and shuffled out of the booth while Ad mumbled something about visions and symbols. “Forget it, Ad, you’re full of shit. You’re wasting my time. I don’t have time for cute shit.”
“I haven’t finished. Jesus, Mohave, you need to learn how to be patient.” He followed her out of the diner and onto the soggy streets of the Lower East Side. “Mo, please just listen to my whole story, it’s worth your time, I swear. Please.” He ran after her pleading, grabbing her arm to pull himself up to her side. “You walk too fast.”
“You’re too short.”
“Fuck you, I’m taller than you by at least four inches.”
Mohave stopped short and turned to face her friend. “Okay, are you going to follow me around and tell me how important this story is, or are you going to man-up and tell me whatever it is you need to tell me?”
He stopped a little ahead of her, not prepared for her quick stop. “Yeah, I’m going to tell you. But I planned it all out, so you have to listen to the whole story, okay? Please?” He pulled out his best desperate expression which reminded her of the sincerity he’d shown earlier in the diner.
She wrapped her arm around his and began walking them towards China Town.
“That was the whole dream, I mean, everything that happened. But there were some strange feelings in it, you know? Like, when I woke up, I had all these emotions pumping through my veins. It was… I felt…” he swallowed and looked over at her, his friend, his angel, and she didn’t even know it. “When I woke up I remembered something The Prophet told me when I was a kid. I didn’t understand it then, but it’s really important now.”
She looked back at him and withheld her urge to provoke the rest of the story out of him.
Ad looked down at the ground and slowed down to a stop, taking Mo with him. “He told me once that he had a vision of me with a beautiful girl. No, he said woman. He said he saw my wife. He described her to me.” Ad looked over at Mohave, the desert queen. “He described you, Mo.”
She lifted an eyebrow. He could tell she didn’t quite get it. His felt his heart thud, thud, thud, up against the ring box in his coat pocket. He pulled it out and watched as she realized.
“Please don’t say no, okay?”
“What are you doing, Andrew?”
“Just, please,” he closed his eyes and lowered himself down onto one knee. He looked and felt in pain. “Please, Mohave, will you marry me?” He flipped open the ring case and diverted his eyes, afraid of her response.
He anticipated a slap across the face, but it never came. He opened his eyes. There, standing, towering over him was the most beautiful girl in the city. She was crying, wearing the cheap ring he got from the pawn shop below her apartment. “Way to go, Ad. You made me screw up my make up.” She tightened her jaw and used the inside of her t-shirt to clear away some of the running mascara. “Cheap shit.”
He stood up staring at her again, in awe of the size of his own balls for actually asking her to marry him and for her not saying no, yet.
“Not you, the makeup,” she corrected.
“Oh, yeah, I know.”
She started walking again and he followed. “So… it fits, hun?”
He pointed at the small rock on her finger, “not bad, right? I mean, I’ll get you a bigger diamond once I catch up on my phone bill…” she cut him off with a finger to his lips. He nearly went cross-eyed.
“Ad, you talk too much.”
“Can I kiss you?”
She slouched again and stopped walking, turning back towards him. “Did you seriously just ask me to marry you?”
“Yeah,” he stopped with his arms out, his palms turned upwards. “I love you.”
Mohave smiled, tilted her head to one side, trying to see the man in front of her differently. Her smile soon turned into laughter at the anguish and despair blushed across his face. He was full of shit, alright, but he was cute, and she could live with that.