The Man Downstairs

Jeremiah and Patricia lay in the bed together, their breathing having long since returned to normal as the strands of music floated up to them from the man downstairs. A soft, ivoried melody, the distinctive keys of the piano matched the harmonic voice that brought the sound to its fullness, playing directly into Jeremiah’s vibe.

Patricia nuzzled deeper into his embrace, her lips, finding the tender spot on his neck,  dry and warm, her breath on his skin, reassuring and comforting. His fingers found her waist and he held her there, where the swell of her hips began, and he let the music take him…


‘I’ve kissed your lips, and laid with U

And I cherish every moment we spend

In each other’s arms’

Jeremiah closed his eyes and pulled her close, listening to her breathe, but sleep wouldn’t come for him. He was having thoughts. Left field thoughts – way out there and headed for the fences that sent him sprinting for the ball but gaining no ground, the earth churning like a treadmill beneath his feet, destined not to catch such foreign emotions.

He looked down at Patricia. She had a hair out of place, a stray strand, evidence of the heat they had just shared. Jeremiah smiled and gently nudged it back into place.

He was catching feelings for Patricia, she was different than Candy, more mature, more… ‘special’. Candy was high school. Patricia grown and sexy. Candy was wild malt liquor on a Friday night. Patricia was champagne and bubbles at the break of dawn. Yet Patricia baffled him in so many ways and he was drawn to her every mannerism. She had no reservations, no hesitation about sexing him up, sharing her body with him in ways that shocked him sometimes, surprised him to the point where he had to drop some of his own sexual notions and open his mind to pleasures that he never considered.  But when she refused to answer his questions about whether she was seeing anyone else, her response was the equivalence of a straight arm to the chest that kept him at his distance and reminded him of the extent of their relationship. Jeremiah felt a pang of jealousy, an emotion that totally surprised him and he found himself in left field and running for the fences.

She was Ronnie’s sister, and that would be a serious complication if he ever found out, but Jeremiah felt that he could live with whatever happened. In life, unexpected happenings should be expected, things happened, events that were beyond anyone’s control and Jeremiah figured that this was one of those times, so he discarded all reason and went with the flow.

“I’m just here to have fun,” she had told him. “If that’s too much for you, Jeremiah, then we need to stop this right now.”

The music floated up to him as he lay there. A soft, melody riding the intensity of the wave of the piano keys, washing the night, bathing him in its melancholy, as sexy as skin on skin.

“I guess my eyes can only see as far as U

I only want 2 be with U

And the nights you’re not with me

I’m scared,

That you’re gonna leave.”

Jeremiah stirred. The night hadn’t started as smoothly as he had hoped. They had argued when Jeremiah asked her if she were seeing anyone else. Patricia had never spent the night with him since they had become sex friends and he wanted to know the reason.

“Why can’t you just ‘like’ me,” Patricia said. “And enjoy what we do together without getting extra emotional about it?”

She was so lovely in the candlelight as she sat across the table from him. Jeremiah had truly wanted to make the night special so he had watched the Food Network for hours until he saw a show that prepared a meal he thought Patricia would enjoy. A meal that sat untouched at the moment; salmon with a creamy lemon sauce, Basmati rice and French green beans all served with a glass of White Zinfandel, a meal momentarily forgotten as she waited for his answer.

“It’s not that,” Jeremiah’s voice was calm but in truth he didn’t know what he meant either, didn’t know how to tell her that he wanted to claim her, to have her for more than his bed and he couldn’t justify such desires to himself. If he could only tell her, if he could only put words to the emotions that he, himself didn’t understand. Left field thoughts. Way out there.

“So what is it then?”

“Is that what you want then?” Jeremiah said. ”Robot sex? Emotionless, passionless screwing? Would you mind if I got some pleasure from it? Do you?”

“You’re being ridiculous now,” Patricia said. She sighed before she spoke. “Jeremiah, if you take the passion out of the bedroom, we might as well cut this thing off, right now, because there’s no need to go any further.” Her voice softened when she reached across the table for his hand. “I want your passion. I like it. It touches me more than anything. And in all the right places. It pleases me, satisfies me, and it’s all good. But you gotta leave it in the bedroom. You have to.”

“All I asked you was if you were seeing someone else.”

“And I’m answering, okay?”

“’Ask me no questions and I’ll tell you no lies?’” Jeremiah said. “You call that an answer? I get no more than that?”

She stood from the table. She was wearing a short, black dress that hugged her body so smoothly that it appeared to be another layer of skin. She had delicious curves, a temptation that he couldn’t resist and her beauty reached to her eyes, a look that captured him.

“Actually, Jeremiah, you get all of this.” She moved her body like a snake. “All of this.”

Jeremiah laughed his appreciation. “Okay, Patricia. Please. Sit down and let’s partake of this delicious repast.”

“So we’re good?”

Their eyes met. “Yeah. We’re good. Sometimes I get all emotional and shit.”

Patricia smiled and sat at the table.

“It’s just that you got ‘all of that’, Patricia. All of that! You got breast-isis and ass-isis. What is a brotha to do?”

She laughed out loud.

The rest of the dinner went off smoothly. They talked about Jeremiah’s plans for college and his chances of making it to the NBA, the daily drama of making it out of the ghetto and their final destinations in the future. They sat in front of the television and watched Unstoppable, a movie about a runaway train, and then they went to bed.

The song was ending now, a high falsetto that seemed to scream at Jeremiah, a rhythmical warning.

“I guess you’d say that I’m

I’m just being a fool.

But I always, always want to be

With you.”

Jeremiah glanced at his bedside clock. Ten thirty. The night was still young and he could feel Patricia’s heartbeat as she dozed against him. He watched her sleep for a while, pondering how she seduced him without even trying. Her face was soft, he found her beauty touching, her lips full and inviting and her eyes, when she looked at him, promised a satisfaction that was beyond his imagination.

He shook his head to bring himself out of his trance. He chided himself: he was actually watching this woman sleep! Like he was a character on a Lifetime movie! What in the hell?

I better get a hold of myself.  Before I get caught up!

“Were you watching me sleep?” Patricia murmured, not unpleasantly. “Thinking nasty thoughts?” She moved against him and he felt himself responding.

How does she do this to me?

He answered. “Isn’t that what you want me to think, nasty girl?”

“Patricia! If you’re nasty.” she said and her lips found his. A sleepy kiss that slowly became much more and Jeremiah found himself lost in the sensation. Her tongue tasted sweet, sugary, and he started a slow dance, touching, savoring, and Patricia responded with a tango, uptempo, faster, urgent. Her hands found his chest, moving him so that their connection gained more depth and Jeremiah surged forward. They gasped in unison, their lips, touching and for a second, they were apart, a hairs breath the only distance between them, and their eyes locked in the dark light.

Softly, yet somehow, clearly, music could be heard from the man downstairs, its words and melody seized them with a warmth and breadth that intensified their embrace. The singer’s voice floated on silken chords yet was heavy with need, vulnerable. A man, speaking his piece and meaning every syllable.

“I’m missing you.

Don’t know what to do

My life is dark

So dark without you”


“You are so sexy baby,” Jeremiah said. “Let’s make love tonight.”

Amusement gleamed in Patricia’s eyes.

“Be serious, Patricia! I figure I can make love for about five, six minutes, tops, and after that I’m back to booty scratchin’ sex.”

“In that case, you have a deal Mr. Goodbar.”

Jeremiah pulled her on top of him and held her tightly as they resumed their tongue dance. They moved in waves, a lusty slow dance in a world where the only sound was a voice crooning for them. They moved to the music, slow dancing in the dark, their bodies beating in syncopation, unhurried. They composed their own ballad with the sound of heated flesh clashing in agreement and their cries only echoed the musical poetry of the song.

“What you doing to me

What I did to you

This is torture to me

I feel just like a fool”


At the end of the night, Jeremiah was finally able to fall asleep but when he woke up in the morning, Patricia was gone. Never had his bed seemed so empty, the absence of her warmth seemed like a tragic loss to him. When his phone rang, he hopped out of the bed, anticipation coursing through him.

“Hey baby!”

“Hey to you too baby.”

His smile died. It was Candy.


Published by: Nane Quartay

Nane Quartay was born in upstate New York. After a tour in the US Navy, he traveled extensively before returning to New York to begin writing his first novel, Feenin'. His titles include Come Get Some, Take Two And Pass, The Badness and soon to be released Feel The Fire. He now lives in the Washington, DC area.

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