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 You Always Meet Twice, tag;; ira harb
Jan 17 2018, 01:36 PM

Every weekend! Visit at least one festival/bar/club. The definition of that resolution was quite vague and gave her enough leeway. Did a food truck festival over the weekend count? Judging by the laughter around her and the people who handed her this and that (from sausage puffs to crawfish phyllo triangles) it definitely counted. Thankfully, she was already used to going out into the wide world to explore it on her own term. Thankfully, she wasn’t scared of strangers either. With ‘project pop up shop’ in its final stages, she could finally focus on other things. The simpler things in life, like this damn delicious shish kebab she was nibbling on.

Oh, and of course the lights! There was always something hypnotic about creatively lit places; especially with the wacky signs of each food truck. It was one of her most favorite things to watch. Lights. Guiding and yet leading astray. Illuminating and casting shadows. It wasn’t the best time to philosophize about the correlation of light and dark. It wasn’t the best time to keep her eyes up, away from the ground. Of course, with her luck, she harshly bumped into someone, letting her half-eaten kebab fall. “Shit,” her gaze lingered on the food on the ground – you shall be dearly missed – before she rose her eyes up to the person in front of her. Of course they were cast in a damn shadow! “You should be careful! I could have gouged your damn eyes out!” She gestured towards the shadow and then to the food that had disappeared on the dark concrete. With a huff, Rae stretched her hand to greet them. “I am Rhaea and you now owe me a new shish kebab.” This was her own, very personal brand of making acquaintances.

Jan 18 2018, 08:00 AM

Jammin 103.3 sponsored a plethora of annual events, and one was a weekend food truck festival, but Flo wouldn't be here if he couldn't indulge in the festival's offerings. Having trained for crowd control representing the station for other events over the summer, today posed another opportunity for Flo to get-to-know New Orleans, and for New Orleans to get-to-know him. But he had come with an empty stomach on purpose. Sure, the smile on his face was shared with the passion he had for his career and how it made him more comfortable within the city, but he'd be downright lying if he said he hadn't been anticipating the first moment he had to step away from the booth and explore the food. A couple trucks had catered specifically for the crew, but after he had enough to satiate his curiosity (momentarily), he couldn't wait for the first opportunity he had to try everything else.

There was about an hour before the final raffle and clean-up and Flo was the first to disappear with his hood over his head and one of their interns in tow. Their roundabout journey ended up at the back of the longest line of the festival. Engaged in conversation with his intern and the couple before them over what they were standing in line for and the festival itself, he noticed that the line had begun blocking traffic as people began lining up behind them. Naturally he thought to clear up area for people to get through, however he turned negligently into someone else while attempting to make room for the very traffic he wanted to avoid. "Shit." He heard as he doubled back to apologize, "Oh, excuse m--" "You should be careful! I could have gouged your damn eyes out!" The woman cut him off before he could bring her into focus. It hadn't occurred to him how familiar her voice was, his immediate reaction had been to what she said. Eyebrows folded over-under he responded, "I was tryna make room for traffic." But boy was it the last straw the broke the camel's back when she looked up at him and introduced herself! He pulled his hood back, eyes nearly bulged out of his skull, all of his pigment had flushed from his features--Flo had seen a ghost! "Rhaea?"

Jan 19 2018, 01:59 PM

Her hand remained where it was, unaccompanied, floating in the air. What was the matter? Was her initiative not charming enough? It was a pity about her food, but she thought that it was quite the icebreaker. A subtle tilt of her head paired with furrowed brows gave way to her slight irritation. She started to say something, something snarky to express her contempt, yet her eyes were focused on his arm. A dramatic reveal? Exciting. With her arms folded under her chest, she watched him with a look that said ‘Now what?’. There was an immediate decision made in her mind. She was going to be unimpressed, no matter what.

He finally pulled his hood back. And her resolve? It subsided, twisted and turned into an uncanny softness. There was a swell of inexplicable emotions running through her. Disbelief. Fear. Excitement. She just couldn’t pinpoint it. “Either I am officially hallucinating,” she muttered,“Or someone stuck me in some alternate timeline where I am punished by meeting the one person that I…” Her next words faded into the void as she simply grabbed his hand, regarding his tattoos. The familiar patterns were still there. His hand was solid and warm. “You are real.” She laughed. It was a way to break out of the initial shock. Regain her composure. Eventually, she stopped, her trademark mischievous smile remaining on her lips as she slightly rose her head. She had to conjure up that familiar sense of arrogance that usually surrounded her. “Ira! What are you doing here? Finally went to see the haunted hotel? Because you look like you just saw a ghost.” A catty chuckle followed her words before she finally let go off his hand.

Jan 21 2018, 03:07 AM

Although Ira believed in ghosts, he never thought he'd actually see one. The initial shock was embarrassingly debilitating; it left him suspended in a state of emotional limbo he wasn't sure how to respond to. On one hand, his heart beat with excitement while he eagerly anticipated every subsequent opportunity he had to tell her how happy it made him to see her, and how much he had thought about her since they were last in each other's company. The other hand wanted to sabotage the first; nearly loathing he had left the booth tonight. Perhaps it was apprehension, the lingering shadow of doubt that justified his neglect to call, send a text or otherwise be the first to show he gave a shit. After all, he endured being the "simp" of his friends months after she left for ever entertaining the woman in the first place. He had long accepted if they were only meant to share all at which they had. They were just friends.

So his resolve? He laughed, and quite literally wiped the trauma off his face with a single hand. His other--left unattended, had been taken into her custody which became another cause of confliction. Did he appreciate the reminder of how soft her skin was, or was he just fucking lonely? In any case, Flo wanted to prove to himself that he had learned from their first meeting, so he omitted both possibilities altogether and pretended he hadn't heard her muttering all in objective interest. "As real as they come," he finally responded to her conclusion, baring a smirk. He was bound to his confidence after all. "Yeah me and a few of the homies went on a mini tour of a few places this last Halloween but they were relatively boring compared to this here. Never thought I'd see ghosts at the food truck fest." He chuckled lightly, "I'm supposed to be workin' but I'm standin' in this long ass line for samosas. What about you? Kinda early for Mardi Gras innit?"

Jan 21 2018, 08:52 AM

His initial shock was immediately replaced by a laugh and Rae wasn’t sure how to read that reaction. Was it very much like her own? Fueled by a certain ego? A coping mechanism? “Well, you know what they say. There is a first time for everything and who knows,” she let eyes roam the area for a moment, “Maybe there is a haunted food truck on these grounds.” If there were haunted burger shacks, seemingly suspended in time and space, then there could also be haunted food trucks. He was working? A small smile appeared on her lips. “I knew it! I heard your voice on the radio! But…” The fact that she could still discern his voice made her feel…strange. Regret, a genuine longing to see him again and the fear of facing the truth all over again. Denial was an easier burden to deal with. However, it ultimately didn’t prepare her for this very moment.

With a light chuckle, Rae shook her head. “Yeah, well I am not here for Mardi Gras. Or not predominantly. I am here for six months and who knows,” she shrugged as she observed the line, conveniently avoiding his eyes. “If things work in my favor I might just stay here.” Her heart was racing. There had only been hypothetical conversations. If the shop proved to be successful, she might stay in NOLA. It was never a thing set in stone. Why did it suddenly become a viable option? She cleared her throat. “How many samosas do y’all want? If it’s reasonable I can get you some before the night is over.” She looked at the intern, winking at them. “Rhaea-style.”

Jan 24 2018, 07:07 AM

"Yeah that's true. Maybe it's the truck where you got the kebob." Ira replied with a bit of a cheeky grin. He gave himself a bit of time glancing around the lot to gather his thoughts. It wasn't long, maybe a second or two at most, but that was a lifetime to a quick thinker. "But you didn't wanna ask," He assumed the remainder of her sentence. Though his abruption seemed accusatory or provocative, he was merely following his line of logic, waiting for her to confirm in any way that he was right to leave her to a memory. Either way, Ira wasn't upset and he figured he'd prove that to himself by adding in rapid succession, "It's coo' though cause you're still lookin' good. I'd hate to see you out here on the struggle bus." At least he knew for a fact that he would've been upset if she was going through it and hadn't reached out to him.

Nevertheless, he marinated for a quick thinker's lifetime over the notion that she'd be in NOLA longer than she had Miami, while the line moved forward and he totally forgot about his intern. "Well I'll be a monkey's uncle." He had absolutely no control over the smile that beamed from his features. Despite his mind's insistence to keep her at arm's length, there was this nagging curiosity that wanted to know if the wait hadn't been in vain; if the last year of neglect had unlocked something much bigger that neither of them had the capacity to orchestrate. After all, Ira wasn't a proponent of chance. "Well I would've never guessed you'd consider New Orleans of all places. Then again, I never imagined I'd be moving out here my-damned-self; I was aiming for the ATL. Yet here I am." And he was coming to adore every moment of being here. Only at the mention of actually buying the food they stood for did Ira remember he was in line, and that his intern hadn't been introduced. "I dunno--neither of us have ever had them. Jon Johnny Johnson here was a sheltered child and this is my first time at the fest. Besides, don't I already owe you a kebob?" He asked as he closed the gap his negligence had created in line. The kid's name was actually Jonathan Leer but that was neither here nor there. "And what the hell is 'Rhaea-Style' anyway? You bouta haggle?"

Jan 24 2018, 01:51 PM

“Oh ha ha, very funny.” If there was some ghostly presence in her immediate vicinity she would have known. Right? Damn it. Carefully, she turned to look over her shoulder as if supernatural beings would willingly appear between the masses of people. Nothing. Good. But you didn’t wanna ask. Her head snapped back in his direction. For a moment there was a vacant expression on her face. The familiar feeling of falling into a pit spread in her body. Ira’s candid honesty often had that effect on her. After a few seconds, though, she caught herself, her head slightly tipping back as she rose her nose a little further. Defense mechanism and all. He added in a few more words. How he was glad to see that she was doing fine, yet Rae was still gnawing on his previous words. “I didn’t because you didn’t seem like you cared.” She wouldn’t be accused of neglect if he was equally at fault! However, she didn’t want to talk about that problem in front of a samosas food truck and an intern, who attempted to look disinterested but was still listening with one ear. Exhaling a huff of air, she shook her head before adding, “Anyway, it’s good to see that you are doing fine as well.”

Coming down from her short respite on ‘spiteful island’, Rae slightly lowered her head, watching as the smile on his face spread. As much as she wanted to be stubborn –hold on to that defiance that she had established– she couldn’t help but mirror his wide, toothy smile. “Such is life. Unexpected turns and all of a sudden you end up at the same place. Since you are here, I guess ATL didn’t work out?” They had considered opening a shop in ATL as well. However, it was Rae’s turn to open up a shop. Her turn, her chance to pick a city. Thus, NOLA came into the picture. “Jon Johnny Johnson must be glad to be out and free. Finally buying his own food.” It was pretty obvious by the boy’s slightly annoyed glance that Ira had used this joke more than once. Poor boy. “Yeah, you owe me a kebab, but you are currently working, so I shouldn’t take up the little pause that you have left,” she replied, eyes now on Ira. Haggle? Seriously? She rolled her eyes. “Just wait a minute,” she instructed as she moved along the line and eventually disappeared in it.

Jan 31 2018, 10:13 AM

"Ch, I'm not the damn nomad as well." Ira mumbled in his defense bt he let it go. Clearly it was a sensitive topic for the current time, given by her haste in changing the subject. He felt just as equally justified in disconnecting himself, as she had in picking up shop and moving on with life. What was he supposed to do? Beg her to come back to Miami? "I do what I can." And so as it turns out, Ira would board the petty train to 'spiteful island' right along with her.

Ira shrugged off her brief philosophy, not because he hadn't agreed, or couldn't care less, but because for a moment, he wondered if there was a reason why he had come to seeing her again. If it had been unavoidable that their lives intersect again. Honestly it spooked him far beyond any apparitions he could ever see, and nothing said that better than the brief silence before his response. He had damn near checked into his own world but he was guilty of that sometimes. "Nah, I visited for a couple weeks but it didn't really work out. I was stayin with a friend of mine and I dunno if he had enemies or if I was just a target cause my Hellcat got broken into while we were gone in his truck. They tried to steal it, but I have an anti-theft system so they just stripped her clean down to my damn floor mats. My insurance coughed out damn near 22-thousand. I couldn't wait to sell her man; first the kid tries to rob us, then I get put on bricks while I'm out bowling." It didn't really resonate how much that day stuck with him until now. That he was carrying her with him, despite his best effort to forget about her. And that epiphany made him kind of salty.

"Man shouldn't we be gettin back to the booth?" Johnny-Boy, who had already grown exhausted with being the butt of all the jokes insisted and while stood in silence for a moment, wondering if he should take advantage of the exit while it unlocked itself. In a lingering moment he wondered if she had only disappeared to avoid him, and make him feel silly once again. His thoughts were only interrupted by Johnny-Boy's resounding resolution as he seized his opportunity to overcome the butt of his internship. "Oh shit that your ex-boo, Flo? You used to hit huh? I don't blame you son, I like my women thick too."

And yet Ira replied, "What? Nigga shut up, you sound stupid. I'm just waitin' for these samosas."

Jan 31 2018, 04:28 PM

I am not the damn nomad. There was no visible reaction on the surface. A change of subject easily glossed over the flaring of her nostrils, the slight anger that was slowly spreading in the pit of her stomach. She was at fault for their lack of contact? He knew damn well that…! Rae nodded. “Of course you do.” A bittersweet aftertaste followed these words. Silent accusations and wordless denial of complicity. The petty train was going full speed.

As he started to unravel his trip to Atlanta, Rae’s expression went through various phases. From natural curiosity, to a frown to a finally mixture of amusement and concern. “You really aren’t the luckiest, are you?” She was the one to talk. During her stay in Miami and the robbery, Rae had ended up with a debt that ended up swallowing her complete earnings from that month. The endeavor ‘Miami’ was a failure. A financial burden and no profits in sight. Her partner had flung that simple math equation numerous times at her. Yet, one glance at Ira told her that it was worthwhile, even if she would never voice that sentiment. “At least you got a few stacks out of it! Could’ve been worse.” They could have died a year ago.

Wait a minute, turned into eight minutes as she inconspicuously walked along the queue. Confusion written all over her face as she waited for a kind stranger to take her by the side. The damsel in distress; a technique so old that it should have lost its effectiveness. (Not to mention the feminist outcry!) Oh, a correction. The foreign damsel in distress. Occasionally, she let a French word slip into her English. An exchange student from France, separated from her class and – OH! How wonderous! Was that her group that magically appeared after she had gotten three bags small bags of samosas? “Au revoir, et…thank you,” she said cheerfully, insecure pauses at the right moments, as she waved and walked back to the end of the line. Out of sight, out of mind. “Here you go,” she said, handing Johnny a bag. “Be careful, it’s still hot. And you…,” she gave Ira the remaining two paper bags. “Take care and don’t get robbed again.” She chuckled as she stood in front of him, not sure what to do. Could she hug him or was that already breaching his private space? After a moment of contemplating her options, she gave him a simple nod before she performed another one of her infamous disappearing acts. The kebob? A nonissue.

Feb 9 2018, 09:23 PM

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