Strange Fate of Abel

Strange Fate of Abel


It’s the luck of a red-eye that led me to a middle seat beside a woman who persisted in asking what tranquilizers I use on my cat. She would proceed to stare at Frida (my cat) for abnormal periods of time which ultimately led me to decide that I would rather watch Frida for six hours than try my chances at sleeping before my morning class. By the time we landed, she’d complimented my cat about six times, and as we went through the final round of animal-sedation chitchat, Frida threw up for the first time in her life. 

The luck of a red-eye makes you wonder if it is a delusion you’re experiencing from a lack of sleep, or if this is that “God” that they speak of, entertaining himself at the expense of your confusion and misery.

These were my thoughts on a morning in March when I met Abel.1 It took Uber about twenty minutes to find me a driver, but the moment I sat in his car, I thought he was an angel sent from above. Abel was quick to greet me with a smile and an insult: He told me my decision to fly into JFK had been a mistake, and that I looked “beat.”

His hair was braided and pulled back into a bun, and he wore a black pair of sunglasses that, I would later learn, were only to be lifted if he was to say something the most naive person on the planet would find impossible.

He told me that he’d just woken up from an accidental six-hour nap at a gas station only to find my request for a driver, and thinking I was either incredibly stupid or just bad at picking airports, he’d driven over thinking he was doing me a favor. 

“Where are you coming in from?”

“San Diego,” I said with a wistful tone in my voice. If there’s one thing I can do even in the pits of exhaustion, it is relaying the splendor of my beloved California. What I didn’t expect is that this would send something along the lines of a spiritual jolt through Abel. 

“It’s like fate,” he said, bouncing forward in his seat in an attempt to persuade me to agree that our meeting was predestined. He didn’t wait for my hesitation but rather went on to say he’d always wanted to move to San Diego specifically––he’d never been but he knew it was where he was meant to be. 

He raised his face toward the rear view mirror and asked me if there were any Black people in San Diego. When I nodded yes, he said, “Wow,” about twenty times, and then requested I come up with a rough estimate of just about how many. I remember my right eye twitching when I quickly glanced at the dashboard and saw it was only eight in the morning. The concoction of such an early hour and my lack of sleep left me unable to ultimately come up with a percentage to satisfy Abel’s question, but regardless, Abel moved on rather swiftly. 

“I need something new,” he said, still bouncing. “I deserve it. You know, my friends are always saying that I gotta do stuff for myself because I do so much for everyone else.”

He explained that he didn’t mean that the way it sounded; he was genuinely someone that put his all into the people around him. I nodded encouragingly, trying to deflect the pain I was starting to feel behind my eyes. 

“Especially this past year.” He shook his head, suddenly looking back up at the rearview mirror again. “Are you tired? Do you want to sleep?”

And even though my brain was screaming God yes, I shook my head no. I’ve meditated on this moment as an attempt to understand whether it was truly just the people pleaser in me appealing to him, or if I too had begun to think there was some kind of kismet in meeting a man as bizarre as Abel. 

Abel and I talked for the entirety of the two hour car ride that morning––or rather, he talked for two hours; all I really had to do was listen. But listening to Abel was that kind of experience that resembles hearing an album you are excited about for the very first time. It came with moments of discomfort and astonishment up to the second we said goodbye. 

His story began without any names, but with the simplest fact that he’d recently lost his apartment to his girlfriend of six years, who he had only broken up with a few months prior. His friends told him he’d be better off finding a new place, but Abel knew the value of a three-bedroom in Manhattan for the price of $1,500 a month. 

“I just wanna go home, you know?” he said to me.

I nodded, his story resonating on a level I tried not to let him understand.

We had just entered the crowded highway when I finally heard her name, Matilda. Matilda had been one of Abel’s favorite people in the world. He was fascinated by what she was and how the world saw her as this “intellectual baddie.” Abel knew her differently because he was there when the day closed and it was just the two of them left behind. She’d do this thing where she’d drop her “mask” and reveal some kind of divine feminine presence that fully entranced him.

Matilda had a young boy whose “baby daddy” was in jail for being a drug addict. Abel had grown close to the kid––practically raising him in place of his father. He’d often wondered if Matilda had done any kind of drugs with her ex, but she always denied using anything other than weed. 

One day, Abel decided to joke around and call her a “crack-head” as was commonly used lightly on social media like Tiktok and Twitter, but Matilda became aggressively defensive to the point that she slammed a door in his face. 

“So I think…” Abel said, lifting his fingers as if he was connecting the dots. 

I nodded in agreement of his unfinished sentence. 

Abel then told me that he’d known it all along because her mother had been a coke addict, but he’d had faith in Matilda––which he should not have had, but he did. Her whole family was messed up, even Jennifer, her sister, was weird. The moment he met her, he knew something was off. Six years later, fighting to keep both of them out of his life, he understood that the women shared the men they dated without consulting them beforehand. 

Jennifer attempted to seduce Abel on many occasions. The first happened when he fell asleep at her palace and she pointedly got dressed in front of a mirror in the living room where he had been sleeping. 

“I’d never been more scared in my life,” he said, looking up at the rearview mirror. “I opened my eyes and BAM. Naked Jennifer.” 

He had pulled the blanket over his head and went as silent and still as he could while he waited for her to finish getting dressed. 

After this failed attempt, Jennifer would retry on many occasions, by simply walking around Abel in “just her panties,” when she knew they were the only ones at home.

Abel knew he had to tell Matilda about this, and in an urge to prove his honesty, he even mentioned a certain birthmark that was in a place no one would ever glimpse if they were to see Jennifer fully clothed. Nonetheless, Matilda seemed to brush it off.

At this point, Abel found himself in a deep state of confusion. He was striving to be a loyal man, and he knew he could do it, he told me. He seemed to be relaying a common fact when he said he was certain about this even though Jennifer was by all means “finer” than Matilda.

But one night, the trajectory of these attempted seductions changed. It was after the night he’d joined the family for karaoke. Jennifer had been drinking wine straight from the bottle and was insisting Abel should come into her room to “hang out.” He knew this was a bad idea, but he wanted to have a good relationship with Matilda’s family and Jennifer was very persistent. 

Things were fine at first until, and all of a sudden, Jennifer placed her hand on Abel’s thigh. At that very moment, the door opened and Jennifer’s mother took a single glance at the room and told Abel to get out.

“I know my daughter,” she said when he slipped past her. Looking back, he saw that Jennifer had transfigured into something along the lines of a “satanic vision” as the most sinister smile spread over her face.

For the first time, Abel raised his sunglasses. Suddenly, he was on a quick fire rant about how he’d heard that Jennifer and her ex-boyfriend had been involved in some “satanic shit.” 

“They worshiped Satan together,” he said shaking his head as he lowered his sunglasses back into standard position.“Voodoo fuck shit.”

Needless to say, Abel wanted no part of this. 

Arguments within the family were almost routinely in Matilda’s household. Among the most memorable to Abel was one when he distinctly heard Matilda scream, “That’s why I took yo mans,” at her mother. After some questioning, Abel managed to get both sides of the story.

He explained this next part to me in a meticulous metaphor. 

“It’s like when you’re a jury and you have every part of the story, and you can put together a singular truth.” 

As it turns out, Matilda had been sexually abused by her father throughout her entire life. It was like Lolita, but more twisted, as her father had genuinely convinced her that he loved her and wanted her more than he wanted her mother. Even under the sunglasses, I could tell Abel’s eyes were wide like a scared child’s, searching for some form of a conviction. 

I was invested by the time we’d reached the Williamsburg bridge, so much so that I felt the need to ask what had happened to ultimately make their relationship crumble. 

Abel said it all began when Matilda was convinced she could find a better deal for an apartment in Brooklyn. Upon discovering that she, in fact, could not, she moved back into Abel’s place with her son and their relationship was steady for a bit. This was until she abruptly decided to move Jennifer in without any warning to Abel. Matilda began sleeping in her sister’s room rather than Abel’s and the two women started excluding him and laughing at him. At the time, Abel was working two jobs and was far too exhausted to deal with the complexity of female emotions, so he decided he would just give them their space. All of this changed on a Thursday when he came home to see they had tossed some of his leftovers that were still perfectly fresh. He confronted the women gently, asking them not to do it again, and when he was done, he went to take out the trash. By accident, he dropped the bag, and the contents spilled all over the floor.

This small misfortune led to an immense fight that resulted in Matilda and Jennifer going to court, claiming that Abel had been “throwing food at them” and even trying to hit them with a trash can. Abel said he hated the system because he hadn’t touched them at all, and through all of this, Matilda had been urging him to hit Jennifer by chanting, “He’s gonna swing.”

Nonetheless, the sisters called the cops, and Abel was forced out of his apartment. Despite the fact that he was battling this case in three separate divisions of the court, Abel still deemed it wise to attend Matilda’s son’s twelfth birthday party back in February. 

He’d been working on himself––spiritually, I mean: “I was getting on high vibrations by meditating and manifesting, and I knew she was onto me.”

To no surprise, the birthday ended up being a disaster. He left after a huge screaming match which then prompted Matilda to get a restraining order against Abel. She later broke it herself by texting him that she needed his support at the hospital, and Abel obviously still cared for her, so he obliged.

By the time he finished telling me this, we’d arrived at my apartment. At the paleness of 10:00 a.m., I felt as though I’d already lived through twenty lives. Abel thanked me for hearing him out, but I insisted on thanking him for telling me such a strange story. He helped me carry Frida out of the car and then gave me his Instagram with the request I send him a list of “must-dos” if he ever found himself in San Diego. 

This I have done, which earned me the splendid reply of “TACOS” followed by the sunglass-wearing emoji. But my attempt at asking questions for clarification on the tale of his relationship was met with the response of the following messages: 

“Wow this is making my heart race… lol wow…”

Three different laughing face emojis and “why is that happening lol.” Thus making me believe that I will never hear a reprise of the stories I was told. 

Time and time again, I find myself wondering if there has been any progression in Abel’s life. I examine the quotes he posts which range from thinkers such as Jesus Christ to Dave Chapelle. I ponder the close-up selfies he uploads after inviting Instagram models to “cookouts” on his stories, wondering if this is an indication that he and Matilda haven’t gotten back together. 

I live in hope that someday Abel will find himself going through my list of “must-dos” in San Diego, with a woman who combines the “baddie” in Matilda with the “fine[-ness]” in Jennifer but who lacks their insanity. And maybe it was fate that led me to the backseat of his car in that early morning in March because I know no matter how odd our encounter may have been, we’ve become odd pieces in each other’s lives that only we can fully understand.

  1. Names have been changed throughout the story to protect the subject’s privacy.
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