“Oh, man, please,” Thurgood said as he placed his hands on his hips. “You need to calm down. You already taking medicine for that high blood pressure.” Thurgood suddenly smiled. “Although, I got to tell you that you really surprised me back at Betty’s.”
Freddie stopped and spun around. “What are you talking about now?”
“I’m talking about the way you was reacting when my Dee Dee was reading that piece from the Song of Solomon. A man knows what another man is thinking.”
“Uh-huh.” Thurgood smiled. “I’m crazy enough to know that whatever you taking for your high blood pressure ain’t stopping Freddie Junior from trying to strike out on its own.”
A shade of red Thurgood had never seen before suddenly spread across Freddie’s face.
“Don’t be embarrassed,” Thurgood told him. “Dee Dee can cause a stir in a graveyard.”
Freddie hung his head. “I guess now I’m being a bit hypocritical. I’m sorry,” he told Thurgood. “I’m not lusting after your wife. It’s Betty I want.”
Thurgood laughed. “Man, please. I ain’t hardly mad at you. Me and the whole world know that Dee Dee is a fine woman, and a gorgeous one at that.”
“She’s very pretty,” Freddie remarked. “But she’s not my Honey Bee.”
“Lord, no!” Thurgood blurted. “But I am glad to hear you say that. I mean, there’s a lot of playas out here and inside the church that would’ve had such ideas.”
“I’m no playa.”
“Of course you are,” Thurgood told him. “You’ve probably been running away and escaping the marriage claws by inches.”
“No, I haven’t,” Freddie admitted. “I’ve never been within reach of a marriage claw.”
“Really?” Thurgood said. He then folded his arms across his chest and leaned against the living room wall. “I betcha when you rode a horse, you tamed that filly, didn’t you?”
“I did ride a couple of horses back in the day, but as soon as I’d feel them bucking, I’d fall off too soon. . . . Word got around quick that I was no cowboy.”
What Freddie had confessed weakened Thurgood, and it showed as he slowly pushed away from the wall. Although he no longer wore his hair conked, the little gray fuzz he did have stood on edge. “Not even one that you could pay to ride?”
“Nope, I’ve never had a professional trainer in the art of sex.”
“And yet Betty still wants to marry you?” Thurgood shook his head and whistled as he looked Freddie in the eyes. “Man, whatever you need to do to get back on the good foot with my cousin, you need to do it. You can’t let nothing, not even high blood pressure, mess up your marriage plans.”
Thurgood began thumbing the side of his cheek, as though to conjure up more advice. “If you telling the truth and every woman you ever slept with has stamped your lovemaking skills ‘return to sender,’ then there’s all kinds of things you can use to get your manhood off the trade-in block. If you and Betty think y’all wanna consummate and make things legal, there are ways. I mean, you have the pump. It’s a hand pump, so I’m just assuming you ain’t been completely idle all these years, so you probably won’t have too much trouble with it. And then there’s Viagra and Cialis. I’m telling you there’s a pill or a cure for just about everything that ails you. We can even come up with something romantic to square away Betty’s misunderstanding of where you stand about marrying her.”
Thurgood held out his hand to Freddie. “I normally look for a check when I counsel, but since you gonna be family soon, a handshake will do.”
“Sure. Why not?” Freddie gave Thurgood a limp handshake.
“Why the soft handshake, Freddie? Didn’t I help you?”
“You helped with everything but my cancer.”
The two men stood opposite one another, watching smiles fade and concern take their place.