In 2008, radio station K103.5 aired a radio talk show called The Love Forum with six women sassily discussing their lives, loves and relationships with millions of Dallas, Texas listeners. One year later, the brothers (the husbands, boyfriends and lovers of those women) now may have their chance to chime in on those discussions.
DK “Love” Niles, emotionally ill-at-ease by the death of a friend, and troubled by his past, is searching for answers and trying to find his way in life. Lost, he agrees to meet Jessie—the protagonist in the first book—at the infamous restaurant Baileys for lunch. A lunch where his world is turned upside down by what she tells him (and gives him), and puts him on a course that would eventually change his life.
Now with a mysterious blue letter in his hand, and shaken to his core by what she’s told him, he asks the waitress to read the letter given to him—he’s asked to fulfill a wish by his dead friend. A wish to continue and become the moderator of the new Love Forum which will become known as the Brotherhood; and if he does, he’ll find the answers he’s been searching for and bring a voice to the world—the black male voice—that’s been silent for way too long.
DK, through Jessie, enlists the help of a psychiatrist; and with his radio sidekick, they begin to honor his dead friend’s wish by flying The Brotherhood to Juneau, Alaska for a 4-day, 3-night retreat to get to know each other. But he quickly learns that with nine brothers, there’s going to be personality clashes, egos, and outside influences that will wreak havoc on the Brotherhood’s success.
With The Brotherhood airing to millions, Jessie, in an attempt to garner more listeners, decides that she needs more drama on the show and devises a plan to reintroduce the wives, girlfriends and lovers on one of the Brotherhood’s forums—with a clairvoyant. Emotions run high and drama fills the radio station’s studio; leaving the brothers to drop out and not return. DK, in a quandary, and left to figure out how to bring the brother’s back—or better yet, if The Brotherhood should even continue—has to devise a plan to get the forum back on track.
After painstakingly getting The Brotherhood back on course, long lost fathers and sons are discovered, sexual twists are revealed, and loved ones are lost, leaving The Brotherhood in shackles once again—unrepairable. Devastated that The Brotherhood is in disrepair, DK (and Jessie) find their promises to keep the Love Forum going is broken. Determined to honor his promise, DK devises a plan to bring the Love Forum back and repair some of the damaged lives as a result. With the help of the remaining brothers and psychiatrist, he begins to play a major role in making positive changes to the brother’s lives and eventually finds the answers he’s been searching for and finds his way in life; touching upon topics the black community has thrown up under the rug.
Although sad that some of The Brotherhood brothers fell by the wayside; DK kept his promise to his dead friend, found the answers he so desperately needed answered to move forward with his life, and brought a voice to the world—the black male voice—that had been silent for far too long.
Black Pearls Magazine Question: What inspired you to write Black Coffee from the black male point-of-view?
When the reviews came out for Looking for Sweet Love, one reviewer said it would have been nice to hear the men speak in the book, and I nodded and said, “My point exactly.” I had just accomplished what everyone else was doing at the time: Catering to the female audience. Everything up to that point had been told from a black woman’s perspective and there was a period where everything was pro-female and anti-male (or so it seemed). Everywhere I went the discussions amongst the brothers was the same: Where’s our voice?
Black Coffee was my attempt at providing that voice. Everything that we had seen (the abuser); heard about (the DL brother); or were portrayed to be (the non-committal man or womanizer); I flipped it and said, “Look, we’re all human here. It’s a two-way street you know. Men get hurt; men get cheated on; men have not-so-great relationships. Let’s hear those stories too.” But as I laid out the story-line, it quickly became not only that voice, but my social issues book for men of color.
Black Coffee Book Reviews
“As the men get to know each other, readers learn of their past secrets, career aspirations, and of the emotional turmoil in their lives. By the time the story is over, love triangles will be revealed, past physical and emotional abuse will come out, and unexpected family relationships are revealed. (Think Maury Povich.) . . . And what one man reveals while under hypnosis is worth the price of the book itself.”
“There are many flavors of life, but they all share a uniting trait. ‘Black Coffee’ is a novel from R. L. Byrd as he tells the story of DK ‘Love’ Niles, a Dallas Disc Jockey who discusses relationships and love from a black perspective, and draws on the expertise of other people in his brotherhood to give readers a taste of the many types of love we face. ‘Black Coffee‘ is a strong pick for those looking for a novel with romance and good wisdom for any relationship.”
– Midwest Book Review
Black Coffee Book Excerpt: Chapter 2
Reminisce with main character, DK “Love” Niles . . .
After a full night of worrying my ass off, ill-at-ease and a whole lot of sleepy, I finally dragged my ass out of bed, washed up (hittin’ all the hot spots), threw on one of my good old sweat suits (that would be the blue one, that shows that d thang swinging in them boxers), and started the thirty-mile drive—in a light rain, I might add—to meet Jessie at Bailey’s. Damn! Bailey’s. It was the first time that I’d been back since Melissa died. I can remember the first time she told me about it, and I can’t help but laugh. That crazy girl ran into my office, with her hands on her stomach, all hunched over, talking ‘bout, “Ungh-ungh, boo-boo, got your message, and boy, I am not trying to go to Big Jim’s Rib Shack today, and definitely not for the third time this week! Ungh . . . ungh! Not even trying to go there with you, boo. And boy, if I have to shit out one more rib, it is not going to be pleasant up in here! You heard?”
Damn! One thing that I loved about my girl was that she didn’t hold anything back. Nada! She told me that a good friend of hers had just opened up a small, but trendy joint, a few blocks down from the radio station (some sort of small-time chef breaking out on his own) and she wanted to go check him out, give him a little support. I looked at her crazy butt, laughing, and said, “Aiight, Lis, we can go check your lil’, small-time friend out,” although, those ribs were calling my name. DK, come get us! But when she said the magic words, “My treat, boy,” I was like, Oh hell, yeah! That’s what I’m talking ‘bout. And never giving up a free meal—especially when a sista is paying (now, how often is that?)—we ventured off and pulled up to what had to be, damn near, the busiest place I’ve been for lunch (especially in Dallas) in quite a while. Hell, just to get into the parking lot alone, we waited damn near ten minutes. (And doesn’t it make you mad when you have to pay to park just to get something to eat?)
We made our way through all the madness (walked right up to the front door, skipping all the people waiting in line) and rushed inside where we met this character by the name of Chef Luda (Luda was his first name, Bailey his last). He stood at the front door, greeting people, talking about some “comment ça va, Lissie,” and I looked at him, all frowned up, and said, “Huh? Excuse me. What did you just say?”
Melissa saw the look on my face and threw her hands up as if to say, Come on, DK, get it together. She sounded out “Coam-on-sah-vah” and said, “It means, how am I doing, silly.” She put her hands on her hips, flashed one of those big-ass smiles (which meant she was up to something), and gave me one of those looks that said, Watch me work this.
I smiled and looked in another direction, shaking my head and saying to myself, Oh Lord, here we go. All I could do was stand there, with this stupid grin on my face, and watch her do her thing.
“Well, I’m doing just fabulous, Luda. And, boy, you’re talking to me like I’m used to that Cajun tongue of yours. That would be a big not! But rather than how am I doing, I think the tea is, or should be, how-you-doing?” Lis turned around and gave me a big wink as she wrapped her arms around Chef Luda’s waist and looked up at him with those big puppy-dog eyes.
“You sure you’re doing okay, boo-boo?” she asked.
Chef Luda returned the intimate gesture and wrapped his arm around Lis’s shoulders and answered, “Well, baby gul, I’s doing mighty, mighty fine. ’Bout as fine as dis old man can expect, under da circumstances.”
“Oooh! That’s good news, Luda. Good news! Lord knows, I’m so happy to hear you’re doing fine. And what you talkin’ about you being old? Puh-lease!”
Chef Luda laughed at Melissa, and she gave him one of those Don’t even try it looks of hers. “Now, Luda . . . whew! You got it smelling too good up in here, and your girl, and my boy here, are starving! By the way, you do know I’m eating for two, don’t cha? Yes, yes, your girl is expecting. So get the purse ready, baby. You gone have to loosen up the purse-strings, for sure, for this one. You’re paying for three today, boo, and did I mention, we . . . are . . . starving? Oooh, what we gots to eat?”
Chef Luda shook his head and grabbed Melissa’s crazy butt, engulfing her in a big bear hug, while I stood there looking at them (like an idiot), thinking, Damn, I’ma have to tune out everything and listen real hard just to understand what this brother is talking about. As soon as those thoughts cleared my head, Chef Luda answered Melissa, or Lissie as he called her, in that unforgettable Cajun drawl. “Well, I do believe I can fix dat eatin’ part. Don’t know much ’bout da oda stuff going on in dat belly of yo’s, but it sho’ is good to see ya! And who’s dis here friend you done brought wit cha?” Chef Luda let out a hearty chuckle and extended his hand for me to shake while introducing himself.
“I’m Chef Luda, and yous be?”
“I’m DK Niles, better known as DK Love. Me and Melissa work—”
“Yah. Yah. Da DK from da DK and Melissa Morning Show. Boy, you knows, yous a fool on dat there radio. Have me’s a-cracking up. Mmm-huh! And you sho’ do look familiar too—you sho’ do. Humph!” Chef Luda scratched his head and stared at me real hard. “So, Mr. DK—and you too, Ms. Lissie—wha’ y’all critters think ’bout da place?”
I said to myself, Critters! Well, I be damned. First, the nigga interrupts me. And now he has the nerve to be calling somebody—hell, anybody for that matter—a critter. Up in here looking like the last damn critter, his own damn self. Like the last Spike Lee reject—balding something terrible on top of that. I mean terrible as in patches, yo. Guess he didn’t get the memo that sometimes you just gotta let that shit go. And if the Spike Lee–reject look and the balding didn’t beat all, dude was blown up a good two hundred pounds or so (hell, we definitely could see where the food was going). Can you believe that shit? My boy Spike would not be pleased! Not pleased at all. I just looked at him (sizing him up, you know how we black people do), shook his hand, and gave him one of those quick and dirty smiles (fake as it was) as he and Melissa started chatting again. While they chatted, I took a quick look around and thought, Damn, this Negro ain’t no effin’ joke (despite that damn critter comment). I asked myself, What is Melissa talking about? This definitely ain’t no small-time chef (no pun intended). I’m telling you, this place was absolutely the shit! And by this time, I was a-scratching and a-itching to get a peek at—and a little taste of—what Bailey’s had to offer. And for the first time ever, I forgot all about Big Jim’s Rib Shack and those meat-be-falling-off-the-bone ribs.
( Continued… )
© 2015 All rights reserved. Book excerpt reprinted by permission of the author, R.L. Byrd. Do not reproduce, copy or use without the author’s written permission. This excerpt is used for promotional purposes only.
Purchase Black Coffee by R.L. Byrd
Book genre: Romance; Fiction
Black Coffee Social Issues Highlighted
• Homicide-Homicide is the No. 1 killer of black men between the ages of 15 and 34 in 2011.
• Unemployment- As of January 2015, unemployment among black males was 10.3% as compared to 4.5% for white males.
• Suicide- In 2011, Suicide was the #3 cause of death among black males aged 20-24, accounting for 8.8% of deaths among this demographic.
• HIV- Blacks/African Americans continue to experience the most severe burden of HIV, compared with other races and ethnicities. Blacks represent approximately 12% of the U.S. population, but accounted for an estimated 44% of new HIV infections in 2010.
• Education- At the national level, the 2012-13 school year estimates indicate a national graduation rate of 59% for Black males, 65% for Latino males and 80% for White males.
About the Author
R.L. Byrd lives in Atlanta, GA, where he works on his life’s passions—writing and architecture. He is known for writing Contemporary Realistic Fiction with memorable characters and vivid scenes of confronting personal and social issues. Mr. Byrd donates his time to many community service programs, and is the founder of social media campaign Project H.U.S.H. (an acronym for Homicide, Unemployment, Suicide, and HIV/AIDS). The campaign promotes discussion about the many social inequalities faced by black males and is rapidly gaining follows on Facebook and Twitter. For more information visit www.richardleonbyrd.com