Clown Phone

In earlier entries on this blog I wrote about a guy in a clown mask committing robberies here in Atlanta, and a story where women were mugged for their phones.

My new short story, which has the temporary and sure to be changed title of Clown Phone, combines versions of these two stories and links them together. Here’s the beginning of the story:

“Let me see if she’s not with the Man of the Week,” said Kathy. She reached out between her wine and water glasses to where the three iPhones were stacked in the center of the table, in between the candle and the small vase of flowers. Hers was on the bottom in its pink plastic case; on top of it was Laura’s in rugged black rubber. Mary’s was on top, slim, no case at all.

Kathy’s thumb and fingers opened up to grab the top two phones, when she heard Laura say, “Oh, girl.” She snatched her hand back, as if she’d been burned.

Mary put her head in her hands. “Laura! We almost had us a free dinner.”

“Aw, man.”

The waiter materialized with water refills. “First one to touch their phone pays, right? I see that a lot, now.”

Laura said, “Beats having everyone sitting there playing with they phone the whole damn time. You want to bring us the check, we can split it.”

“No,” said Kathy. “It’s on me. I need to learn my lesson.” She handed the waiter a debit card. As he walked away, she said, “I can get promoted, I got my friends, but I got no man. Might as well spend my money on the people who love me.”

“Don’t be singing me the I Got No Man blues,” said Mary. “You’re going to turn into the caricature of every professional black woman in Atlanta. There’s plenty of decent men out there.”

“Plenty of women, too,” said Laura.

Kathy picked up the stack of phones, passed them out. “Y’all don’t have as much family pressure as me.”

“You got that right. I gotta remember to thank my big sister for taking up the breeding duties.”

Mary shrugged. “You choose to fish in a tiny pond, don’t be surprised you come up empty. You’re beautiful and strong, but there ain’t but ten single, straight, handsome, well-educated black men who aren’t players in the whole damn city.”

Kathy snorted. “Sing me a song isn’t on repeat in my life.”

“Once you go white, you won’t come back.”

“My mother would never forgive me.”

“Sheeit,” said Laura. “You have you a cute little baby, she won’t care what color it is.” After the bill was sorted, and the waiter carefully overtipped to combat the stereotype, the three of them left the restaurant and walked out onto a steamy spring street, another unseasonably warm all night, behind them the bulk of the Biltmore Hotel, once a destination their mothers would only have been allowed to enter in maids’ uniforms, now offices over restaurants who would take anybody’s money.

“Drinks?” said Mary.

“Yeah,” said Laura. “I want me something cute and delicate and girly. And a beer, too.”

Kathy pulled up the map on her phone. “Outside at the Georgian Terrace?”

But they only taken a couple of steps around the corner onto Fifth when a hand snatched Kathy’s phone out of her hand. A voice shouted, “Give it up, bitches! Phones and wallets.” She looked up to see three perfect examples of exactly what she didn’t want: do-rags, sports jerseys, fake gold teeth, saggy pants around their knees, $200 sneakers.

Mary laughed, nervously. “You’re mugging us? In this neighborhood? What is this, 1990?”