Mo acts tough. He has to, surrounded by guys who do weed and girls on the weekends. He speaks tough: dropping his ending Gs and peppering every sentence with “Fuck” or its derivatives like it were a cup of corn bought on the corner of 26th and Pulaski. He does so to distract “the boys” from his mannerisms that don’t seem “quite right.” But to be honest, nothing about Mo seems “quite right.” All you have to do is spend 5 minutes with him to realize that. It’s something in his walk, in his laugh, in the way he keeps his glance on you one moment too long. Or maybe it’s in the graceful manner his hands form the signs he’s come to identify with all these years.
No one says anything, but “the boys” know without knowing. They all sit an inch farther, and take their arms from around his shoulders 3 seconds sooner. He’s the last to be called over and the first to be forgotten. They aren’t conscious that they do it; they just do. No one questions why every few weeks he has a new friend, a new “boy,” following him around for protection. No one wonders why every Thursday night Mo is nowhere to be found, except at Mambo, or La Hacienda, or Sangria, or wherever the club organizers move to next. This is just how Mo is, they say, with his tough walk and rough talk, and his graceful fingers no one can imitate.