Chapter 2- More Better

Is it wrong to say something is "More better" than something else?

"More better" would be used to express the comparative degree.  Usually, comparisons are expressed by adding the "-er" suffix to the original form of the word.  Tall becomes taller.  Wide becomes wider.  But what about better?  Doesn't that end with an er?

There are three forms of the adjective on a scale.

I'm looking in the mirror from my bed.  I'm bald, but by choice not because my hair fell out.  I just liked the shape of my head and wanted to show it off.  I had a nice body.  It's easy when you have the time.  I'm attractive.  I look young thanks to Labron's miracle cream.  No bags or nothing like that.  Why was I so single?  Why was I so lonely?  Why didn't anyone see what I saw?

Rolls of tissues on the side of my bed in my two bedroom apartment in a skyrise on the southside of downtown.  Rent is due.  It cost 1300 but I only have 500 in my bank account.  My car note is already late.    The other bedroom is empty.  It has all my old crap in there.  Old pictures.  People from my past that I can't let go.  I always find a hard time letting go.

And that's why I do it.  I take out my phone and I type a message.

It's a simple:  HELLO THERE to the person who used to make everything OK.

Is it wrong to say someone is "More better"?

The absolute adjective is good.

The superlative adjective is best.

But Better lies between good and best.  But it's so hard to say what the best was.  How can you say what the best ever was if you never experienced your best?  So you say better.  You cannot say MORE BETTER because BETTER is already expressing the most it can in one adjective only.  But you have this idea in your head of who someone was.  Labron.  He wasn't the best.  But he wasn't just better.  What was between better and the best.

I hit send.

More better...

There is a knock on the door about an hour after I lose myself in my memories.  I get up and walk over there to see Clapper himself standing behind it.  3 days have passed since I just stopped showing up at my job.  I couldn't even clean out my desk.  I was too scared to confront Waverly.  Too scared to face the woman whose husband I had been having an affair with for a good portion of my adult life.

"Chinese?" Clapper offers.

He doesn't wait until I answer before walking into the house.  He has a suit on.  I'm confused.  I knew damn well Clapper didn't have a job, but then Clapper always wore a suit.  He says he feels naked without one.  That's just who he is.  He's a business man.  He says he was sure basketball players wore basketball shorts when they weren't playing.  What's the difference with him?

I was not the same.  I was slumming.  Slumming is actually a kind word.

I'm just standing at the door, "I didn't invite you in."

"You haven't picked up any of my calls.  I called you 40 times.  I had to come over to make sure you were OK."

"I don't need you to look after me."

"If I don't do it who else is going to?"

"Get" I state.

"Hey Uncle Nile," a voice states.

I look over and see Jr. walk in at that moment.  Jr. is the spitting image of his parents.  He is mixed.  His father's white and his mother's black.  He has his father's hair color but the curly texture of his mother.  He had his mother's big lips and his father's pointed nose.  The kid was going to grow up to be a real heartthrob just like his father was back in the day.  I can see him with earphones.  He doesn't hesitate to give me a hug when he walks in.

"Jr.  how the hell you been?" I state.

"I'm me a girlfriend.  I was going to tell you all about her but you didn't pick up when I called from my dad's phone."

I look over at Clapper.

"I didn't know it was you," I state.

"Everything OK?"

"You mind going in the guest bedroom and letting me and your dad talk.  Still got your XBOX in there..."

"Madden loaded?"

"Of course."

"You're the best," he states.

walks into the room leaving me and his dad to talk. I'm pissed. Pissed is an understatement."Really?  You going to use Jr.  to get to me?"
"I have to pull out all the tricks," Clapper responds, "I know you too well.  I know you weren't going to let me stay unless Jr. came.  You can scream and kick me out but you can't do it to him."

I'm annoyed.  I'm annoyed because Clapper is right.  I had a soft spot for Jr.  I looked at him as the closest thing I'd ever get to a real son.

"What do you want Clapper?" I ask.

I'm short.  Real short.  I don't have this shit to do.  Not today.

"I had no idea Romelo was going to pull that," Clapper states.

"Because there is so much trust for the dickhead who sleeps with his best friend's boyfriend?" I ask.

Clapper shakes his head and shrugs, "He thinks in his own fucked up way, he was trying to look out."

"Wow...really?  You're defending him?"

"I'm not defending anyone.  I'm simply acting as the mediator like I always am," Clapper explains in a calm collected voice, "I'm just interpreting the facts here."

"I don't know how I'm going to pay rent.  All those contacts that I had...Waverly reached out to them.  She is blocking me..."

"Is that a surprise?" Clapper states, "We still have an option.  All we need is an investor.  I've been putting the word out there, reaching out to contacts.  Romelo has been doing pitches to investors, he's real good."

I roll my eyes.  This was beyond stupid.

"Don't waste your time finding an investor unless he's out.  I'm not fucking working with Romelo."

"Romelo comes with the package.  I'm sorry this is happening.  I know it sucks.  But look at this as an opportunity."

"I don't see any opportunity."

There is a text at that moment that comes into my phone.   The phone is in front of Clapper.  I know my friend.  I know how nosy he is.  When he reaches over and grabs the phone I'm not surprised.  He stares at it and sees who it is.  He knows my password.  Matter of fact he has a fingerprint on my fucking iPhone to unlock it.  Within seconds he knows what is happening on my phone before I can even take a step to walk over to him.

"You text Labron," he asks, "Really?"

"It's not what you think," I state.

"Is it business or personal?" he asks.

"He's my friend."

"So it's personal."

"Not like that, Clapper.  Get your fuckin' mind out the gutter.  The man is married."

"Are we even sure he's married?" Clapper asks, "We never got invited to the wedding.  As soon as he got with the girl he started getting so distant.  Maybe it's time you met up with him."

"Wh---what?  Don't you fucking respond?  Clapper.  I swear to god.  What's with you people sending these fucking unsolicited messages?"

"It's done."

Clapper hands me the phone.  I look down on the phone.





I read the message that Clapper sends to Labron several times over and over.  I miss you.  We all do.  I can't be mad at Clapper.  How could I be mad at Clapper for that?  Where was the lie?

A text comes back in on the phone.  I can't read it.   I'm too nervous.  I'm just standing there like an idiot.

Clapper offers me his hand, "Here."

This is what I loved about Clapper.  He was just...there.  He just knew what I needed when I needed it.  So I reach out and give him the phone.  I'm too chickenshit to read it myself.

After a few awkward seconds I ask, "What did he say?"

"He says he came into town for court on Friday and he's staying the weekend.  He wants you to meet him at the courthouse.  He had a time.  He has a date.  He there."

"It's so simple for him, isn't it?" I ask.

"It's Labron.  Everything is so simple for him.  Everything just comes easy for him.  The rest of us had to struggle for things but it just comes second nature for him."

"He left us," I state.

There is a pause.  I can't be the only one hurt about this.  No goodbye message.  No explanation.  He slowly started distancing himself from us when he got with the girl he was with now and then one day poof.  He was gone.  As though he never existed.

"I'm sorry," Clapper states, "But maybe this is a reason you need to go. I would like you to go and talk to him about the business idea.  But honestly, after what Romelo pulled, I wouldn't blame you if you didn't.  But I do think either way you should go talk to him.  Either way, you need to talk to Labron.  You were the closest one to him out of all of us."

I hated Clapper was right.

I hated that Clapper knew me so well.


It's a cold day.  Thanksgiving was just a week ago.  The skies are so downcast and sad looking.  Everything is so goddam gloomy.  As I walk up to the courthouse my stomach turns.  So long I wondered about why Labron pulled back the way he did.  I wondered why he did what he did.  I never had a reason.  I never had an explanation as to why he did it.

I needed one.  I desperately needed one.

I'm in the lobby of the courthouse.  My tan peacoat is way too long and my sweater is way too big.  I feel like I'm drowning in my clothes.  Maybe I'm using them as some sort of security blanket.  Security from my feelings.

The first boy I was attracted was Labron.   We were 9.  I would follow him around like a lost puppy listening to every word he said.  The lil' nigga loved to act like he was in charge of shit.  And I gassed his fucking head up.  We'd explore together.  He was Batman and I was Robin.  And the world was our Gotham.

"Wassup Robin," he states.

I turn.  It's as though he's stealing the thought clean out of my head when he says it.  His voice is the same.  It's deep, dark and enchanting.  It's the sound of leather if leather could talk.  Strong, firm, rough and still so smooth.  His voice is rich with tone.   His eyes are both hooded and deep set into his skull, pressed so far down that they give an illusion of a very strong, prominent brow bone.  And then he has those thick brows of his.  They are dark, thick and tone out his face.

He has facial hair now.  He didn't have any when he left Philadelphia.  It's a chinstrap beard that is well shaven and neat.   It follows his jawline completely.  No patches or inconsistencies.  It acts like a border to perfectly rounded lips.

He's tall.  A little taller than Romelo.  About the same height as Clapper.  He's not as thin as Romelo.  Not as muscular as Clapper.  He's somewhere in between.  The perfect in between.

Mr.  More Better.

"Hey Batman," I respond, my voice a whimper compared to his.

If he's nervous at all, he doesn't show it.  He doesn't skip a beat to lean forward and hug me.  I'm so used to Vicario.  I'm so used to strong overwhelming cologne.  There is barely a scent on Labron, even when the hug is so close that my nose is nestled above his collar bone.  It's a faint smell of perfume maybe from soap or lotion or body oil.  Nothing overwhelming.  Nothing crazy.  It's subtle, just like Labron.  A beautiful creature hidden under the radar.

"I can't believe you're here man," he states, "Jesus. great man.  You got taller."

"I did not get taller."

"Maybe I got shorter," he states with a laugh, "How have you been?"

I fake a smile.  Its so much easier to fake a smile at this moment than to tell him what's really wrong.  What's really wrong is that my life has been ripped right up from under me.

"I should be asking you that.  Figures after all these years we'd be meeting in a courthouse."

"I know you aren't talking.  We've been friends so long I forget which one of us was the bad influence to begin with."

He laughs.  I laugh too.

"Romelo is the bad influence."

"Still bad huh?"  he asks.

"Will he ever change?  You reach out about his get rich scheme huh?"

"Yeah what do you think of it?"

"You asking me."

"Listen if you down, I'm down," he tells me, "That's how this works.  Romelo is trouble though."

"Right.  Sometimes I think that maybe I can get this man out of my life for good. And then I'm like wow.  That was a really nice 45 seconds."

He sighs, "Friendship is weird.  Just going through life until you find a few people you actually don't want to kill and you're like.  You.  I like you.  And then you do dumb shit together."

"Story of our lives," I smile, "I'm surprised we made it this far.  Honestly.  Figured one of us would blow some shit up and end up in jail by now."

"That sounds like a horrible idea actually," he says and then smiles, before bluntly adding, "What time?"

I want to ask him why he left.  Did he just get tired of doing dumb shit with the same people?  Did he just get tired of us?  All this emotion is coming back.  Instead of letting it though I just lean over to him and give him a quick pat on the arm.

"So why the hell you in court?"

"It's not good.  You probably don't want to hear my shit."

"Try me."

He sighs, "Trouble with the wifey.  Let's just say life is a lot like a dick.  Soft, straight and all relaxed and then a female comes around and makes it hard."

"Wait, you two breaking up?"  I ask.  I realize how ridiculously excited I sound before quickly adding, "Because you know that would be horrible for Zika..."

"No, we aren't breaking up smart ass.  And now you know damn well her name is Zima," he stats grabbing me and putting me a headlock on the bench.

We start wrestling.  I don't know how I end up pushing him up against the bench as he tries to maintain his headlock on me.  We used to do it as kids back in the day.  He'd let me win every once in a while but I always knew he was stronger than me even if I was older.  He presses me down on the bench and comes over me.  His crotch is in my face and his hands are holding my shoulder up against the bench.   My face is inches away from that heavy print in his jeans.  I could reach over and just touch the holy grail right then and there.

It would be so easy.  But it wouldn't be worth it.  That's usually the fucked up thing about easy things, isn't?
"Eh-erm," a voice states.

I turn and see her.  Zima.  The bane of my existence.  I wish I could say he could do better.  I'd be wrong.  The girl was gorgeous.  I mean the type of girl that should be in a music video.  I'm talking leading lady.  She's light bright.  I remember once Labron told me that was his type.  She was one of those girls who was still into her sorority way after she graduated and watched Mean Girls a little too much so she believed that shit.  Her whole existence is trifling.   She doesn't cook, don't clean, don't work, don't do shit but puts on a blonde weave and pink lipstick and all of a sudden she thinks she's Barbie.  The truth was bitches are so busy being "Bad Bitches" on Instagram and Twitter that they don't notice they be bum bitches in real life.

"Still awkwardly close to my man after all these years," she states, before finishing off with a nervous laughter and adding, "Sike.  J.K!   How you been Nile?"

She leans into hug me.

"Good you look good," I state trying my best to keep calm with her.

I notice she isn't alone.  Athena is with her. Athena is the daughter they had together.   Last time I had seen Athena she was a baby.  I look over at her in her mother's hands and realize just how big Athena has gotten.  She's pretty, just like her mother.

"Athena, you remember your dad's friend Nile right.  The special one I talked to you about?"

"Aw, you talked to her about me?"

"Yeah, I was explaining to her not to think in stereotypes.  You were proof not all gay guys are stylish and witty."

I look over at Labron.I was trying here.  I was really trying.

Labron seems to think it's funny and smiles back, "She's joking.  She's joking."

I give her a slight pat on the back in return, "I've been great.  Hilarious after all these years you still haven't developed a sense of humor."

"Nile..." Labron starts.

He has that tone.  That tone he used to use on us when we went in on his discounted wholesale Barbie.

"JAY KAY!" I state with a  smile a little bit of laugh.

"Yeah baby he's just joking," she responds with an even deeper laugh, before adding shadily, "Don't want things to get ugly."

"Things getting ugly?  You must be taking off that kilo of Fenty makeup on your face."

We both start laughing.  I have to give it to her.  We can go all day like this.  The girl was relentless but all my friends knew if push came to shove, I was the shade assassin and she was first on my hit list.  And I was going to go Kill Bill on this bitch with sirens and random country music included if need be.  She would be wise to keep it cute.

She crosses her arms and becomes herself, relaxing into her resting bitch face.

"So really..." I interrupt, "Why were you two in court.  What's going on?"

Labron is about to answer but Zima clears her throat.  Not like she wants to get something out of there but as if she wants Labron to shut the fuck up.  If I notice, I know Labron notices, because he just stares at the ground as though the explanation of why they were in court was down there sometimes.  All of a sudden he's saying nothing.  Weird.  Real. Fucking. Weird.  Silence.

It's weird silence too. I see the look on Zima's face.  She doesn't want my friend to bring this up in front of me.  She has worked for years on distancing herself from me.

"I'm a little tired," she responds changing the subject, "Babe, we should check in the hotel."

"What?" I asked shaking my head, "Nah you guys staying with me."

"We're good on that."

It's Labron now who pulls her to the side.  There is more weird behavior.  More whispering.  Whatever is going on is definitely something weird.

A few minutes later Labron walks over and says bluntly, "We'll take you up on your offer."

I feel like maybe I shouldn't have offered them to stay at my place because when they get there things continue to be awkward.  Zima doesn't even thank me.  I'm not sure she's mad at me.  I think a part of her is mad at Labron for talking her into staying here.  I can hear a bit of a muffled argument in the bedroom.  The kind of argument your parents make when they don't want you to hear shit.  It's really awkward because they leave Athena out in the living room with me.  Dora is on but the little girl seems more interested in looking at my facial expression as I try to act like I'm not hearing her parents yell.  I look back at her and smile.  She doesn't smile back.  The little girl just stares.

"Everything OK, Athena?" I ask, "You want to watch something else?"

Something else besides me, that is.  The little girl is weird as all fuck.  She was cute. Don't get me wrong.  Her mother had dressed her in this cute little dress and braided her hair up real nice.  But her staring at me while her parents argued was just so fucking weird.

It's well into the night.  A part of me just wants them to come put her to bed or something.

"Where's your wings?"

I smile, "Humans don't have wings, sweetie."

"Mama says you're a fairy, though."

I roll my eyes.  Luckily it's just in time for Zima to come out of the room.  I think she's about to come get her daughter but she doesn't.  She walks out of the house slamming the door behind her.  The little girl doesn't even budge. A part of me wonders if she's used to this kind of behavior.

Labron walks out into the living room.

"Everything good?" I ask.

"Yo mind ya fuckin business bro!"  Labron barks at me.

I'm a little shocked.  I've never had him really come at me like that.  I want to go off on this boy.  Like bitch, you in my house telling me to mind my business because I comment on your girl storming out of the apartment.  I don't say anything though.  He looks beyond irritated and Labron was cool but he was one of those dudes that once you took him there he just saw red.

He scoops his daughter up to go put her to bed.

I just take that as reason to head to bed.    I'm beyond confused.  It doesn't take him long to address me though.  I hear a knock on my door and when I open it Labron is there.

"Well oh..."

Labron is standing at my door in a towel.  I'm talking about in a fucking towel.  His body is on 10.  His abs are like an action figure Jr. used to play with when he was real young.  His face is smooth as butter and always has been. I've NEVER seen a pimple, blemish, discoloration or anything on Labron's face.   His towel is a little low, a little past the v-section.  I wonder if he notices his pubic hair showing a little bit.

"Yo..." he states, in that deep dark voice.

He smells good.  This is why I go crazy over Labron.  I could have straight friends.  I wasn't that guy who was obsessed with straight friends, but he knew I was gay.  To say he was a tease was an understatement. Like who fucking did this?  He lifts his arm up and he looks like brown sugar.

"Everything good man?" I ask.

"Can I come in?" he asks.

" just got out of the shower or..."

"Yeah, had to cool off.  You don't mind do you?" he asks.

"Actually," I start but before I get the chance to finish he's in my room.  No point now.  I just shrug, "Yeah come on in."

That's when he lays on the bed at that moment.  I can't fucking believe this!  This sexy ass man just laying on my bed with a towel.  I can see the imprint of his dick from here.  I don't know exactly what to do.  If it was back in the day it would have been normal.

This was how Labron was.  Just a little too open.  Just a little too...well...suspect.  I hate calling him that but again, what straight guy does this to his gay friend on purpose?

"I'm sorry about tripping before."

"You good," I state, "What's the issue though?"

"I don't want to talk about this shit right now," he states, "Come sit...take my mind off of it."

I sit on the edge of the bed.  Real uncomfortable like, "Wassup?"

"Closer man damn.  I ain't gonna bite.  What's with you?"

I start moving closer to him and he grabs me.  I mean grabs me REAL tough.  He pulls me close to him on the bed until our arms are inches apart from each other.  He leans back again as though tired.  He lets out a sigh.  His washboard abs are inches away from me.

"If you are having issues," I state, "You know you can come to me right?"

Sure he was sexy as fuck but he was still my friend.  Him avoiding the situation right now kind of concerns me.

"You just lucky.  Lucky you don't got to deal with females.  High maintenance as fuck," he sighs even deeper, "Man I had to rub one out in the shower.  The only way I could calm down."

He grabs his dick for a second through the towel.  If he did rub one out he didn't do a good job because it's clear he was still hard.  I look down at it.  What. The.  Fuck.  I had no idea what was going on.

"Maybe you should try something else?" I state.

I do it in a laughing manner.  It's forced as fuck.  The awkward laughter by me isn't returned by him.  He just sighs again and sits up.

"Shit maybe you got a point..." he responds.

I laugh thinking he's fucking around but he's not laughing.  He's just quiet.  He's just staring out.  The guy is stressed out.  Way too stressed out.

That's when I hear the door open.  Someone is back in the house!

A part of me thinks it's his wife so I jump off the bed like a fucking idiot when my bedroom door opens.  I know how it looks because when the door opens Clapper is looking at me with raised eyebrows.  I know Clapper's face.  I'd seen the same face several times usually when he caught Romelo into some shit.  And here I am looking guilty.

"Clarence, what's good man!"  Labron gets hype jumping off the bed and damn near dropping his towel to give Clarence a hug.

I feel so awkward when I'm standing there.  I just feel stupid.

Clapper looks at me, "Am I...interrupting some shit?"

"Yeah, Nile what's up with that?" Labron asks.

I shake my head.  I wasn't going to let them make me feel awkward.  Hell no.

"Clapper you need to learn how to reach out before you just head over."

Clapper rolls his eyes, "Yeah sure.  Anyway.  I got some news.   Someone reached out to us about an investing."


"That's the won't believe me if I told you."

"Clapper just spit it out.  Who wants to help us?"

"Waverly Kingston..."

To read the next chapter in advance go to