Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Dress caints

I was walking with my client in Inglewood when I heard two teenagers talking behind us.

Boy 1: Yeah I'm transferrin' over there like next week.

Boy 2: Whatchu gon' wear the first day?

Boy 1: Prolly a white t-shirt an' some jeans.

Boy 2: You caint wear white tees there though.

Boy 1: Whaaat?

Boy 2: Nope. Caint wear white tees, black tees, no blue ones or red ones or green. Nothin' purple or...

Older now

Sleeping in big chair 
Baby dog in lap 

What are you thinking about now
How did you collect the years
How can I know what you know

What is over there
On that side of knowing

Quote of the day

 "The human voice can never reach the distance that is covered by the still small voice of conscience." Mahatma Ghandi

Word of the day - egregious

1. Outstandingly bad; shocking
2. Remarkably good

Sugafree day 2

Taking my sugafree days one day at a time. I feel like someone addicted to hard drugs when I say that. Then oh wait, sugar is a hard addictive drug! Try it, try going off sugar and then think about all the times you said or heard someone say that all drug addicts need to do is just stop doing drugs. I didn't even think sugar was that big a deal in my life then I decided to cut it out of my diet. Weird how much of my head space goes to rationalize why I should have at least one cookie. I mean it is oatmeal raisin so it's almost like not even having sugar after all. It's like breakfast. Not.

Real talk

"If I fixate on you, I'll disappear." A woman said to her husband's killer on Law and Order.

THE NIKEL chapter 5

That evening Obrey rang the doorbell to the condo. Sharita opened the door and she and Jewel walked in together holding hands. "Peace, Queen." Sharita said to Obrey. "Hey little mama." She bent down to talk to Jewel and Obrey looked around for Amad. "You're getting so big. How old are you now?"

"I'm seven."

"Oh my goodness. I remember when you were only this high." And now you're all grown up.

Obrey dryly said, "This is for you." Then handed her a bottle of juice.

"Thanks. Amad is in the study with Malik." She pointed to the rear. Jewel saw other children and walked over to play with them.

Obrey opened the study room door and Amad and Malik looked startled. Amad quickly tried to get her out of the room while Malik logged off the computer. Amad looked like he had just been caught stealing from his mother's pocketbook. "Greetings, my queen." Obrey rolled her eyes and walked out. Amad ran up to her to take her hand.

Monday, January 30, 2012


I'm very proud of myself for having a sugar free day today! I posted that on Facebook today and Gimel commented and said that "Will power over tasty treats is a powerful thing and will show up in other areas." That right there really inspired me because although I didn't have any cookies today I was low key giving myself permission to have one (two really) tomorrow. But now it's like on! Now I have something to prove. I'm all mad and gangster about it too, like "to hell with you cookies!" And they're all looking at me like "you know you want me" but I'm like "no I don't and even if I do so what 'cause I'm not gonna have you because I'm better than you and you're gonna need me long before I ever think of needing you!" Ok I might think of it but nope, I'm not having the cookies on top of my fridge even though they're like my favorite. Love will have to eat them without me. So.

Word of the day - lugubrious

lu·gu·bri·ous   adjective
mournful, dismal, or gloomy, especially in an affected, exaggerated, or unrelieved manner: lugubrious songs of lost love.

THE NIKEL chapter 4

Amad parked in front of Obrey and Davis' place and did a light jog up under the ark onto the brick porch. He turned around and noticed how perfectly manicured the lawn was and the new flowers in bloom. Lilies. Obrey loved lilies. Davis was up painting downstairs in her studio just off the dining room. They waved at each other through the window and she let him in.

"Hey you, what's up?"

"Same ole same." He checked out the painting she was working on. Masks. African masks. "I like that. You got skills."

"I know it. So go tell everybody you know with some money to spend."

"I know that's right. They sleep?"

"I think so."

Amad took his shoes off in the barefoot enclave but before he went upstairs he stoppd at Obrey's design table and looked at the many wedding dress designs Obrey sketched and noticed they were all scratched out. There were even some in the trashcan next to the table. He tapped on the bedroom door where Obrey and Jewel were sleeping then went in. Jewel liked to lay in the bed with them. She would lie in the bed with Obrey until Amad got home and walk her into her room. He turned off the radio that was set to 102.3 fm and kissed Obrey and Jewel. He saw that Obrey was sleeping hard and tried not to wake her as he got Jewel up. "Come on, baby, go in your room." He walked her in her room right next to Obrey's. "You have a good day today?"

"Yeah. I painted a picture with Davis." She said in her raspy sleepy voice.

"Show it to me later, ok?" Go back to sleep, sweetheart." He tucked her in her bed and she went back to sleep.

He went in the restroom in Obrey's room, got into the shower and started rapping. Obrey heard him in the shower and smiled as she got up and gathered Jewel's toys and books that were spread all over the bed. She put them on Jewel's bookcase in her room that Davis painted for her a year before for her birthday. There was a painting of Jewel as a princess in a field of flowers with butterflies and ladybugs all around her underneath a blue sky with soft white clouds. She returned from Jewel's room and sat on the bed and watied for him as she skimmned the latest issue of Elle. There was an article on Spike Lee and she wondered what Elle magazine would be saying about Spike. And the relationship "Is he your soul mate?" questionnaire was also a selling point. She sought conformation everywhere she could find it.

She thought about how far she had actually gone on her quest to be sure that she'd made the right decision and that indeed she and Amad should get maried. Or not. For years Mama Rosa's Spiritual Advice House sat lonely and lit up on Crenshaw and Wilshire. She passed by the week before and decided to stop. She parked her car under the streetlight. Before she got out she looked in the glove compartment where she kept extra cash and realized that she had changed her purse that morning and had somehow left her wallet lying on the bed. There was only ten dollars in the glove compartment and she didn't have her credit cards on her. She did have her checkbook but didn't know if spiritual advisors took checks. "If she's that connected to spirit then she'll know that the check is good." She said out loud as she got out of the car and rang the doorbell, checkbook in hand.

"Come in, beautiful."

Amad opened the bathroom door wearing a wite towel around his waist and his version of a sexy look on his face and performed a strip dance for her.

"Da dada da da da...Daddy's home..."He sang as Obrey lightly giggled and remembered that he was sexy with his dark brown skin and short dark black hair cut close and beard perfectly trimmed. She loved seeing him naked. No matter what they were going through he was as handsome as ever. She loved resting on his chest at night. It made her feel like Jewel must feel when she is in the bed with them. Safe. Protected. Home. Comfortable.

"You must have had a good time tonight."

"Why you say that?"

She imitated him rapping. Amad smiled and began to play with her in bed." So what did you fine young ladies do here all by your lonesomes without a big" kiss on the neck, "strong" kiss on the cheek, "Mandingo to protect you?" He flexed his muscles as he crawled on top of her. She returned each kiss with a bite on his nipples and unwrapped the towel from around his waist. Laughing the whole time.

"Oh, we found a way to survive." Kiss. Bite. "We did girl stuff. Now come and get some of this sho nuff good stuff."

Amad climed on top of her. He threw his towel on the floor and put his hand underneath the t-shirt she was wearing. His t-shirt and a pair of his boxers. He liked that. Amad continued kissing her neck and ears. He said he loved to hear her laugh when he tickled her ears like that. Ears. Neck. Lips. Her moaning was always music to his ears. "Malik and Sharita are having a little get together tomorrow. I told him that we would come." He said softly, casually, still kissing her.



"I have a deadline on some designs. I had planned to spend all day working here."

"I told him that we would be there."

"Well then you and Jewel go. But I have other plans."

"Whatever." He started rubbing on her. She told him to stop. "What?"


Amad got off of her and laid on his back. She sat up and turned around to Amad.

"So you have an attitude?"

"You said stop, so I stopped." Amad turned his back to her as she sat in the bed getting madder and madder by the second.

"What about all the times you flaked on me when the precious Malik called? I can't believe you have an attitude."

"What's that supposed to mean? And why are you making such a big deal about it? If you don't want to go then don't."

"Here we go again doing the Malik and Sharita thing."

"What Malik and Sharita thing?"

"Are you serious? You bring up their party in the middle of us making out and you ask what Malik and Sharita thing?"

"It's a little get togethr. I just thought about it. You act like...like...I don't know, like it's some big deal that I asked you about going over there."

"It's a big deal that because I don't wanna go you start whining."

"We just can't have one day Obrey when there isn't something for you to complain about me can we?"

"Can we have one week when we aren't all up under them?" Lately it's like every time I turn around it's Malik and Sharita, Malik and Sharita, MalikandSharitaMalikMalikMalik. Like you're using them for measuring stick for our lives."

"What are y..."

"They have a new truck, so we should get one. They're going to Jamaica, so we should go." She paused and spoke softly when she said, "they're married, and so we should be." She gently turned his chin to face her directly. "I love who we are and what we have. I don't mind us all getting together, but every time we do, it seems like we have to change who we are to fit into their lives."

"Obrey, I don't change myself for anybody. Like I said, if you don't ever want to go over there, don't. It's not that serious."

"Then why are you acting like I just said I don't want to visit your mother on Mother's Day?"

"You just gon' keep pushin' it, aren't you?" He got out of bed and put on a pair of sweats from the drawer and sat in the chair with his head in his hands.

"It seems like your biggest fear is losing your friendship with Malik. And you make me second to him when he doesn't love you the way I do. Malik won't ever do for you what I do. And you constantly putting me second out of loyalty to your boy lately is getting to be too much for me."

Amad was almost at his wits end and tried not to let the viens completely pop out of his skin. He didn't understand why Obrey couldn't see how hard he tried to make her happy. How hard he worked. How much he loved her and wanted their relationship to work out. "Is that it?" He finally asked.

"Nope. It's actually pissing me off because I'm starting not to respect you."

"Are you just trying to push me away, Obrey? Is that it? Are you that afraid?"

"No, I..."

"Look, first of all, I'm a grown ass man and I don't follow behind anybody. I have my own mind and I'm not going to stand here and defend that to you."

"Should a grown ass man ever have to announce that he's a grown ass man?"

Amad left the room. He knew that if he didn't right then he would have given Obrey just what she was asking for. Him out of her life forever. He had a quick vision of the palm of his hand mushing her head into the pillow until she was out of those smart ass ramarks that only told him how afraid she was. Why couldn't she just come out and say it? She would have to. He thought. She will have to come out and say 'I can't marry you.' Because he wasn't just going to give up on her. On them. He left the room and went downstairs to get some fruit and hoped that Davis was not still painting. Hoped she had gone to bed and couldn't hear them arguing. Hoped that Jewel was sleep and not disturbed. Hoped.

Obrey knew she had gone too far. Maybe he was right. Maybe it would be easier to push him away then to say 'I'm afraid of getting married right now. Maybe ever.' She wanted everything to be like it was. She wanted her mother. She wanted Amad with her. She wanted his arms around her. She wanted him to kiss and breathe on her neck. She wanted her nipples to rest between his knuckles while he held her. She wanted to tell him her everything. She wanted to hear his everything and believe it all. She wanted those days back when she knew her heart was safe in his hands and he would protect it and keep it. She wanted those long rides back. Her hands in his hair and his fingers all over her. His fingers. Those fingers. She wanted those magic fingers back.

Obrey sat on her bed and wondered what happeded. Where the good times went and why it was so hard to get them back. Amad walked back in the room and sat on the bed then kissed her forhead. "It's gong to get better, baby. It is. I don't know what's going on but I know it's not here to stay. Ok?"

"Yeah." They were both afraid of what was going to come out of her mouth next. Venom would just pour out before she could seem to stop it in their fights lately. At least this one wasn't so bad, she thought. This time her eyes didn't buldge and she didn't shake and cry uncontrollably and beat him on the chest. This time she didn't tell him to take his fucking hands off of her because she hated him. Not this time. Thank You, God. Not this time. "I just know that something is up with Malik and I don't trust him. I get scared sometimes that's all. It's a bad feeling, Amad and I don't want to be around them and I don't want you to be either." Pause. "There, I said it."

Amad sat back in the chair and watched her. She didn't know what he thought. She could only sit there and wait for whatever it was to play out. Then his jaw got tight. Tight jaw, never a good sign. "You know that Malik and I have been friends since we were kids. So what? I should just give up my friendship because my woman, who says she loves me but is too scared to make a real commitment, wants me to?"

"I'm not really askiing you to give up your friendship. Just keep it in perspective. At some point you two end and we begin. You need to know where that line is and don't lose yourself walking it so tight." (Yes, grown ass fucking man I'm asking you to give up your freindship with him. Malik is a self-righteous jerk that only thinks about himself and his bullshit ass revoultion staring himself as brother back to Africa!)

"We're obviously dealing with some issues that have been building for some time now, because this can't possibly be about tomorrow." He paused long enough for her to roll her eyes away from him. He spoke again and turned her head back around to face his. "When you wanna deal with me and you, then let's deal with me and you." He put his sweatshirt and sandals on and tried to be as calm as he could. "I have to run down to the shop for a minute to take care of something, but I'll be back soon. About tomorrow, Malik and I have some business to handle so I'm just gon' leave Jewel here with you."

"I told you I have to work here tomorrow. I'm way behind on some designs and I have meetings all next week."

"I'm only gon' be over there a couple of hours. I'll pick her up as soon as I get back." He grabbed his keys from the nightstand and she got up, stood and faced him with her back to the bedroom door he tried to exit.

"I was watchin' this psychologist on Oprah once and he said that 'when a man says no, it's no. But when a woman says no, it's the begining of a negotiation.' What do you think about that?" No shaking. No hitting. No uncontrolable crying. Not this time.

"I think you coulda found something else to do with you time than layin' up watchin' Oprah." And he left.

She heard the front door lock and sat up quietly for a moment on the bed then reached over and turned on the radio. Malik was on. "Thank you for tuning in. I'm Brother Malik and tonight our topic for discussion is brother to brother, am I am brother's keeper?"

"Oh, please..." Click.

Over and over Obrey reminded herself that they were just going through something and this was just a phase and they would be connected again. That was what she wanted and hoped that he wanted it as well. She also knew that something was going on between Amad and Malik and that something just didn't feel right. She never liked Malik. She laid in bed and started reading. But Obrey couldn't keep her mind focused on one line to the next of the novel so she picked up the sketch book under the bed and started drawing desings. She was just busying herself until Amad got back. She laid there and remembered when Amad proposed to her. Right there in the coffee shop where they met. Casually. She liked casual. And he was romantic. Yes fell out of her mouth before she could catch it. She laid there and wondered if she would take it back if she could.

Why couldn't he just come back? Why did it have to be like this? She thought over and over. She wasn't up for another evening of fighting until they both fell asleep. Come back right now, Amad. Right now. Right now.

Amad pulled into The Beverly Postal Center on LaCienega and Wilshire. He got out of his truck and went inside to mailbox nuber 2177. He got back into the car and flipped through the mail, then pulled one envelope from the rest and opened it. "Yeah, that's what I'm talking about?" He drove off talking on his cell phone. "Hey, what's up, man? Right on time. I'll be down there in the morning. So what do you wanna...."

He knew that Obrey had a point about the time he was spending with Malik. He needed to her to just understand. Undertstand without him having to explain what he knew she wanted to know. He wanted her to understand that he did love and appreciate her. Understand without him having to talk talk talk. Didn't he deserve that? He asked himself over and over and answered his question with what a great guy he was. He was working on something with Malik that was for all of them. Since they had been together he had never had much money to give to Obrey and Jewel. He wanted to be able to give Obrey and Jewel the fancy things and spoil Jewel even more than she was already. And why shouldn't he have it? He had worked hard all of his life. Nothing ever came easy for him. This wasn't even easy. Here he was with his own business and doing the right thing every day and he still struggled. He took care of his daughter, was a faithful boyfriend to Obrey...it was his time.

Obrey would be awake and angry when he returned. He had a good mind not to go back to her place. He started not to turn down her street but go to his apartment instead and give her some time to cool off. But he knew it wasn't all her fault. Better face the music now. Still, he didn't like all of the fighting they had been doing. And about crazy things he couldn't even defend. They fought the night before last about a dream she had. How was he supposed to defend himself against a dream? He just had to hold on a little longer. Everybody did. Just had to hold on. He sat at the stop sign longer than he needed to and thought about what he would say to her when he got home. He really hoped that she would be asleep. Hoped, but he knew that she wouldn't.

He pulled into the driveway and sat again in the car for about twenty minutes. He sat there and exhaled hard. The next morning Amad was gone when Obrey woke up. There was a note on his pillow for her. She read it and looked at the picture of the two of them on the nightstand.

Baby I love you. I know we've been fighting a lot but we always make up. The way you make me feel.

She was disappointed that she was not awake when he came in the night before but was happy to see the note. She turned on the radio, got into the shower and prepared herself for the work she had to get done while he and Jewel were out. When she exited the shower and put her robe on she heard Jewel singing the theme song to the kid's television show "That's so Raven" holding a bowl of Frosted Flakes.

"Hey, Obrey, come downstairs. I made breakfast." Obrey went down a couple of stairs and noticed the milk and cereal all over the floor.

"Muthafucka." She whispered as she walked back up to her room.

"Oooooohhhh!" Jewel said and continued to sing. Obrey could hear the show blasting from the television in the kitchen. This was going to be a long day.

Obrey got dressed and went into the kitchen. "So, what's the deal?"

"Don't mess with the fabric. Don't touch the mannequins. Don't touch nothing."



"Aaaaaannnd?" Obrey asked.

"Toy store!"

Obrey went and sat down at her design table. During the commercial Jewel ran into the dining room to get an apple from the basket. She heard the show back on and ran back into the kitchen knocking over the mannequins. She sat at the design table and shook her head. "Let's go."

"Toy store!" Jewel ran out of the room as Obrey walked behind her.


As they were leaving Davis was coming home. She had bags from the art supply store and many canvases in her hands. "Who's that little diamond coming out of my door."


Davis handed Obrey the bags. "Make yourself useful." She received the bags from Davis and carried them in. They walked up the stairs to Davis' room. There were paintings all over the walls and floor.

"Ooooohhh! You made some more pictures!" Jewel said.

"Girl, just one more canvas and you will have completely outgrown this space. There is space for more art downstairs. Or we could redo the garage and put some up in there. We never park in there anyway." Obrey said.

"I know. I do need more space. But it's so much work transporting all that from one place to the other. Besides, I like them all right in my face where I can see 'em and keep working on 'em. Anyway, most of this stuff will be gone by the twenty-third." Obrey looked away. "Yeah I know you're not finished with my dress yet. But let me tell you Miss I got a lot on my mind, my dress better be ready for my exhibit."

"Oh girl, it will! I got you." Obrey made a mental note to hurry up and get started on Davis' dress. It seemed to her that she was behind on everything lately. Everything including the projects she didn't even know she had forgotten. She was not usually this sloppy with her business. As she sat on Davis' bed and looked at the paintings on the walls she came across one of Davis, their mother and her. Jewel was looking through the magazines on the floor and playing with Davis' large collection of black dolls. "How do you think Mama would feel if she was here now?" Obrey asked.

"She would be proud of us in our careers. She always wanted us to do something in the arts."

"She made everything look so easy." Obrey said. "Remember she used to say that she would be happy with whatever we did? Yeah right. She wanted us to be artists so much she could taste it." They laughed.

"She would be proud of the kind of mother you turned out to be."

Obrey stared at the painting as if she was in deep thought.

"She wouldn't be so cool with how we're handling our relationsips though." Davis said.

"What?" Obrey knew what Davis was talking about. She didn't know if she was up for one of Davis' talks about her relationship with Amad. Not today. Please not today.

"She raised us to be strong and to speak our minds. She wouldn't be so proud of the way we let these brothas run over us sometimes."

"Girl, what's going on? Are you ok?" Obrey asked.

"Are you ok, Obrey?"

Obrey didn't answer. "Be sure you don't break any of those dolls, honey."

Davis knew that her sister was trying to avoid the question and didn't even look at Jewel. "She's fine. Look, we live under the same roof. I've been hearing the fights. I pretend I don't, but come on. What's going on?"

"Nothing, girl. Just...you know...stuff."

"Don't take this the wrong way..." Davis stopped and looked at Jewel. "Honey, go downstairs and fix yourself a snack and watch some TV for a minute while I talk to Obrey, ok?"

"Can I have some of your chocolate pudding?"

"My chocolate pudding? Well, ok." Jewel went downstairs and Davis turned back to Obrey.

"Lately I'm just not happy with Amad." Obrey blurted out before Davis could finish her sentence.

"What else is new? Y'all have been doing this back and forth thing for years. Make a decision and stick to it already." Obrey gave her a funny look. "You know I'm for y'all working out, but damn."

"I've just been so confused these days. I love Amad...or...I don't know if I love him or if I'm just used to him. And then there's Jewel who's been with me since she was ten months. If Amad and I ever split up, it would be hard for her."

"Girl, kids have a much easier time adjusting than grown folks. She'll be fine. Besides, kids are like cats. You always studdin' them way more than they thinking about you."

"That was cold."

"Do...you...love...Amad?" Davis asked as Obrey looked into space. "Just be sure, Obrey, please. Before you go jumping the broom in your best creation, be sure you're sure. This is the person you're going to spend the rest of your life with. Cook dinner for every night. Be the mother to his child. The only wing wang till death do you part." They laughed.

"It's all going so fast. It doesn't even feel real."

"Yeah well, once you're standing before God, the preacher and your little white friends from design school, it's real." Davis said. They laughed again and settled down quickly.

"See, that's what I don't get. How are we more married because we have a piece of paper that says so? Aren't we just as much husband and wife when we decide that that's what we are?"

"A public ceremony is something that God decided was necessary for us. It's an outward expression of our commitment. Without that paper, you're just shackin' up, and it's too easy to just leave and give up the minute it gets a little bit rocky. Hell, you aint even committed to shackin' up. If you're going to be together, then do the right thing and set a good example for Jewel. But before you do, be sure you're sure."

Obrey watched Davis' lips move and wondered how and when she got so religious. 'Shackin' up?' Was she serious? She started to respond when her cell phone rang. As she answered it Davis went to take the basket of laundry into the washroom across the hall. "Sivad Designs, this is Obrey."

"Sure. Congratulations on the nomination...I heard that...Well, let's sit down and between us we'll make sure that no one else's gown could possibily be anywhere near as fabulous as yours. When are you back in town?...The twenty-third?" Obrey looked at Davis questioningly and Davis answered with a stern look. Ah, the twenty-third is definitely not good for me." She had her organizer out and looked at her calendar. "Yeah...that's great. I'll see you then. Thanks for calling and we'll speak again before then just to confirm that everything is still good...Ok. You too. See you then."

"Come on downstairs. I bought a bottle of the good stuff." Obrey heard Davis say. They walked downstaris and sat in the living room. Davis brought in two glasses of wine. "I know on top of everything this is a busy period for you."

"God is good, girl! That was Ausette Rochelle!"

"Go 'head girl!" They gave each other high five.

"I've been looking forward to working with her for years. She just got nominated for an image award and it just happens that she's a good friend of Jennifer Bowens."

"The writer?"

"Yep. And I hooked her up something gorgeous last year and she passed my number onto Ausette."

"Well, all right Miss Designer to the stars! You are on quite a roll here." They celebrated for a while by doing a little dance together. "Obrey, I'm not trying to get all up in your business. I'm just concerned ok?" Davis peeked into the kitchen to make sure that Jewel was still eating her snack and watching television.

"I know. I just get frustrated sometimes because Amad doesn't understand what I'm dealing with. I have more work than ever to do and he's just not being supportive. He's stressing me every time I turn around."

"How do you think he might be feeling? You have a wedding date coming up early next year that you never talk about. You don't even know what you're wearing for goodness sakes."

"Gee, thanks again for your support. Look, I only said I was frustrated sometimes. But I'm happy mostly."

"From the outside looking in, you two seem like the perfect couple. I just don't want you to make yourself believe that that's what you are if you're not just because you have time invested. I mean, because you did time isn't reason enough to do more time. But if you say you're happy...then...you're happy."

"I love him. I'm just having a moment right now. A long moment. But I do. I love him."

"It sounds like Obrey is trying very hard to convince Obrey." Davis put her glass on the table and turned to Obrey. "Can I ask you something?"


"Do you think you're pushing Amad away because of Daddy?"

Lia's beautiful daughters Jaha Zainabu Photography

Zolah, Jaha Zainabu Photography

Reverdia the water queen by Jaha Zainabu

Beautiful by Jaha Zainabu

JAHA ZAINABU PHOTOGRAPHY 404 957 5967 Leimert Park Music Fest

Grooveology A September to Remember JAHA ZAINABU PHOTOGRAPHY

Mom w my cousin James Davis Jaha Zainabu Photography

Sunday, January 29, 2012

natural treatment fibroids


The Health Benefits of Ginger

Completely Shrinking My Fibroids Naturally [How I did it]

Symptoms of Fibriods

Understanding Uterine Fibroids

Congo women relive terror of mass rape

Donate to/Sponsor DR Congo Women Victims of Rape & War | Women for Women International

Donate to/Sponsor DR Congo Women Victims of Rape & War | Women for Women International

Yeah right

After I finish these three cookies I'm giving up sugar. Again.

My horoscope

"Let the genius within you come out and play, Virgo. You may feel like some sort of inventor who has wild ideas that could help to revolutionize the future. Bring these ideas into the open and see what kind of response you get from the people around you. Cutting-edge concepts are likely to appeal to you the most. These are the ones that you should pursue and follow through on if you can."

This was my horoscope today. Yep that's me. I'm the one with the "wild ideas that could help revolutionize the future." But don't worry. Your future is safe and unrevolutionized by me because I'm not going to follow through on them.

Mom's home

Thank God my mother is home from the hospital. I am tired and plan to sleep real good. If my son had said real good then I would be looking at him funny right now but whatever. Real good.

I went to see Lynette's boys play in the youth praise and worship service at their church this morning. Great seeing the boys do their thing. Glad I'm home. With Love. And and Law and Order marathon. :)

THE NIKEL chapter 3

Mostly, at first, it was the red shoes. Life loved red high-heeled shoes on women and the way she moved in them was slow and on purpose. They fit nicely on her feet and exposed her pefectly French manicured toes. His eyes followed the straps that wrapped around her ankles three times slowly and crawled up her legs then tied into two sexy bows. He remembered clearly that she had on a sheer cream dress that came down just under her thighs and gathered at her waist. He traced her frame slowly from her feet up to the spaghetti straps over her tanned sholders.

"Excuse me. Would you like to dance?"

He felt nervous like he was at the Lincoln Middle School social in the girl's gym all over again. She took his hand and led him to the edge of the dance floor and moved gracefully like a professional dancer as if he wasn't even there. Her body parts isolated as her hips moved slowly one way while her shoulders moved the other. Her arms and each finger dictated the story the whole time. Life was like a thief in a bank on a recon mission the way he quickly sized her up and noted every physical detail possible. Her long black hair was pulled back tightly and tied in a bun. Not like the latest black woman's hair fashion, which was hair slicked back with too much gel and then from nowhere a surprise ponytail that curled and frizzed and was supposed to look natural but looked more like Christmas presents instead. She was natural and stood under his 6' frame at 5'9" in those three-inch heels. Hazlenut coffee brown skin with heavy cream and just as sweet he suspected.

"I'm Saundra. What's your name?" She asked as they cha chaed to Bill Withers' "Just the two of us."

"Life." But he wasn't Life that night. He was Alfred Livingston. A boy who was still awkward and nervous who had grown into a man and was dancing with a gorgeous woman he would never feel good enough to receive love from. He didn't imagine that night that this was the woman he would later wake up with and watch her pack her gym bag to go swimming before going to work. He didn't know that she would cook for him food so good it would make him miss his aunts back home. Three songs later, Superman lover, Strokin' and Ribbon in the Sky they finished dancing and he bought her a whisky sour and rum and coke for him.

"I'm love. You're peace." He handed her the drink and she received it as delicately as if he was giving her a flower he had just picked. The glasses at The Nikel were all engraved with positive words and messages. love, peace, be kind, smile...always something suited to whatever you needed to hear. Like forturne cookies. For a brief moment he looked at his glass and remembered the last time he was there he was so pissed off with his record label and had considered leaviing. He thought it was funny how his glass simply siad 'Jump.' He should have. They found a quiet corner at the north wall of the dimly lit room under the mural of the purple kissing hearts.

"Happy birthday." He said.

"Thank you."

"How lucky for me to meet the birthday girl and steal her away from her party. Are your friends going to come snatch you away from me soon?"

"Not likely. My birthday was actually yesterday. I celebrated with my girls last night. Mostly those are people I work with. My birthday is a good excuse, but they're here to end the week and release the stress."

"That bad huh?"

"Not always. But sometimes. Why are you here?"

Their elbows rested on the carved out masks on the wooden tables, and with their heads in their palms they talked. He was relaxed as he listened to her soft and sure voice. He hadn' remembered conversations that easy before where he spoke and she responded, she asked and he answered. As Life looked back he laughed at the thought that they probably looked like Jonnie and chachie sitting togehter sharing a malt at Al's diner.

"No brothers. Three sisters though, but no brothers. And my relationship with my grandmother? No one has ever asked that before. Let's see..." No thoughts from either of them whether it was right to ask "So why did the two of you split up?" or if "What did you get your mother for Valentine's Day?" was corny. Who cared about what was too much information? Cool or smooth? There was only her perfect smile and full lips and great teeth. Only sweat beading on his bald head he hoped she didn't notice. His fingers that inched their way to touch the tip of her wrist. Again. The way she smelled. Like green. His shoulders fell being near that...green...that eased the tension from his neck. After an hour of straight talk he gave her his number and she handed him hers.

"It's not really my style to call a woman the very next moring but since we had such a good time last night I thought I'd check to see if you'd like to go out again."

"Well, for the record, we didn't really go out last night. I was there and you were there." She didn't care that he could her in her voice that she expected him to call. "And I'd love to."

Hooking up, falling in love, making connections was easy at The Nikel. The place was a work of art. It was a Basquiat masterpiece in the middle of real life surrounded by liquor stores that stayed open all night in one way or another. Stores that sold alcohol, candy and condoms by day and weed, crack and pussy by night. It was also next to storefront churches and schools. There were black owned clothing boutiques that sold the latest "fashions" for ten dollars and up. Hair and nail shops where Asians promised "hair straight like mine." And then there was The Nikel.

Hannibal loved art. He collected things. Collected people. Connected dots and made wholes. The walls were covered with rare photos of Billie Holiday, Nina Simone, Miles Davis and other jazz musicians, many of them played and hung out at the club across town Hannibal owned before the one in Inglewood. The Blue Lights, The Notes and The Christian Brothers were a few of the really great jazz bands that played there. There was always a magical kind of energy there. Couples danced and dishes clinked among the buzz of conversations from various tables. There was talk about everything, politics, teacher strikes layoffs, music, celebrity gossip, Sunday sermons, prayer meetings, sick, shut in, sinners, saved, sex and money. There were people from all of the local religious denominations. too. They met there so often The Nikel could have been called First St. Nikel Scecond Baptist Church of God in Holy Apostolic A.M.E.

The Nikel was where you went if you went if you wanted to wanted a classy fun time. A good night that didn't include driving all the way to Hollywood and fighting the North La Brea or freeway traffic. When you didn't have to pay too much to park, didn't have to eat bad food or get bad service. Not at The Nikel.

The third floor was where you could dance all night to live jazz. That's where Life met Saundra, but on the second floor the energy moved a bit faster to the hip-hop and go-go funk. You could see all of the hip-hop kings and queens there, old school, new school and some that you haven't heard of but most likey would. They would have dj, rap, beat boxing and dance battles every week and the really good ones would walk out of there with three hundred dollars or more a piece just from the competitions. That wasn't counting the money they made selling tapes and cds.

Hannibal owned The Nikel but Willow Rains ran it. Sassy enough and didn't take no stuff. Like all the women in her family she knew how to talk to folks and stand her ground. Willow met Hannibal her first year in school at Santa Monia Comunity College. She interviewed him as part of a school project. "I just wanna know how you got started and who helped you? Did you think it would be the blessing to the community that it is when you started? Can you give any advice to a young woman trying to become sself employed?" She was filled with questions and said she could tell Hannibal liked her right away and told her that he would give her a job booking the comedians after she finished school. She didn't graduate but decided she was done with school after she and Marvin got together and had a baby boy, Alex.

Since she had done such a good job dealing with all of the comedians, Hannibal promoted her. She was basically in charge of the whole club. Tuesday nights were always the busiest nights at The Nikel for Willow. She had to get to the club early to make sure that there was enough change for the drawers, the tables were set up and the djs and bands for the second and third floors were all ready. Hannibal always told her to empower her team and stop being such a solo player.

Something was wrong with her niece Neb's Impala one Tuesday night so Willow had to pick her up on top of stopping to get the oil changed in her own barely running Maxima. She was glad to have Neb in town from Chicago working with her wihle she was in college. But that night, on top of everything she also had to make dinner for Alex 'cause another TV dinner just wouldn't do and she was done with him having McDonald's. Plus, she had to deal with the cramps that were just too much that month. The Advil worked, but made her too sleepy.

Earlier in the day she had driven an hour and a half out to Palmdale to have a meeting with Alex's teacher. School break started that day, which meant that Alex would be home with her for the next month. She was really excited about that. No matter how much work she had to do, she would work it out. She had to find a babysitter for him since Marvin's sister Mella had a last minute whatever come up. Willow had an aunt out in Lakewood she asked to baby sit and Alex always had a good time over there. She just hated calling on her at the last minute. But after having juggled all the balls and put them properly away, she walked into the club like she had done nothing all day but rest and get her toes painted.

"Hey queen, you lookin' good as usual." A young man remarked as Willow walked by.

"Thanks sweetie."

People greeted her like she was royalty. You would never know how much she did to keep that place going. She was much more than Hannibal's assistant. It was a lot of work, but she loved it. She didn't get really close with any of the entertainers or customers. She was always fair. And fine. Fine never hurts a woman. All of the women in her family were and none of them were ashamed to say it. 5'10", thick in all the right places, short short afro, skin black as licorice, slanted South African eyes and the whitest teeth anyone could have. All that and still tough as a whip.

One night one of the local homebosy weras in The Say and had the nerve to smack her on her butt as she walked by. She walked over to him with a beer bottle and cracked it on the table, cut his inner thigh through his jeans and walked away without saying a word. The show kept going like nothing happened.

DJ Stress was on stage spinning records and playing mostly hip-hop tunes. Eric B and RaKim, KRS-1, Queen LaTifa and others with clean cuts. Hannibal was serious about not having a record full of cursing. "That's not what my customers pay for. If they do...they mistake." He said.

Essence was the six-foot, caramel brown, sexy, sassy host of The Say and made her way up to the stage. When she got up there she gave the signal to Stress to cut the music. The Say was packed. There were waitresses bringing food, taking orders and having fun.

"Hey, y'all, hey, y'all. It's good to see everybody here and lookin' all good for me tonight." Essence perused the room and smiled. "So we gon' call this old school night since all my folks is here from back in the day." Essence was on stage being her usual funny self. "Hey, Raymond, you lookig kinda good tongiht. You get that divorce yet?" The crowd laughed as his wife gave him a big kiss. Stress spun the old school jams and the crowd cheered. Essence got back on stage. "Ok, brothas and sistas, it's time for our very very special guest. You've seen him on BET, Def comedy jam, HBO and all that. You've seen him in in the movies. He's one of our favorites here in The Say and across the nation. He's not just one of my favorite comedians, he is one of my favorite people. Y'all know who I'm talking about. Put your hands together and get ready to have the laugh of your life right now. That's right. Keep it coming, keep it coming. Ladies and gentlemen...my friend and yours...Life! Come on up here!"

Life never liked long introductions. They were too much pressure and he never felt that he deserved them and was scared that he couldn't live up to them. He came off like this confident guy but he is an entertainer, an actor. That's the job. A lot of people, when they got to know Life, told him that he was a different person on sage. "Well yeah." He once responded. "You show me an entertainer who is the same off stage as he is on sage and I'll show you an entertainer who is being on stage while he is off sage with you." Every introduction seemed to get longer and more intimadating. He started to think that the hosts enjoyed hearing themselves talk more than they were actually introducing him. Life thought about the spot out in Miami where he performed and the host spent so much time supposedly talkin' Life up, when it came time to call his name he forgot who he was bringin' up. 'Um...y'all know who Ah'm talkin' 'bout. Just give it up.' At that point, Life didn't even know who he was talking about anymore.

The crowd cheered and just before he went on stage Saundra surprised him with a big kiss. From their conversation earlier he thought she would miss the show altogether.

"Where you at?"

"Still working. I'll be here for another hour and I promised River I'd meet up with her for a minute. I'll head over to the club when I leave her. I'll be there before you go up."




"I love you." Saundra said and he could her her smile through the phone.

"How you know?"

"Just made it up right now."

"You funny. Love you too."

Life ran on sage, grabbed the mic and freestyled to the old school rap beat. The crowd cheered and there were waving hands and bobbing heads all over the room. "Man, it feels good to be back in town. Of course I had to come and say what's up to my people at The Nikel." He didn't mention that the movie Baby Be Cool that he was in Dallas making was awful and was ashamed of the role he played in an already bad movie.

Why did he even agree to it? He kept asking himself. He felt that he had sold out some more to be accepted in the Hollywood game. What a trap. He was too old for all the drama. He was about to turn thrity and finally sick and tired of it. Even sick of rapping. He never thought he'd say that. At least the rapping that his label was inerested in producing. He was grown and had something to say. He just wasn't about what the new school radio hip-hop seemed to be about. Just sick of niggas, bitches, hos, fuckin', killin', bangin', shootin' and the other nonsense that blared from the radio stations. He wondered how a brotha who made his money like that was going to explain to his daughter or his niece or his son what "Bitch you aint shit but a ho and a trick" meant. "It's funny though, a lot of rappers spend half of their time calling other men punks and fags and the other half expressing how much they hate women. So who are you taking your shirts off and flexing for in the vidoes? Yeah, it's time for rap to become the voice in the community I remember." Those were the comments he made to a reporter at The Grand. When it printed his label called him and said that he needed to focus on making music and not try to be the "poster boy for the new positive rap image." Life was ready to leave the industry rap game alone. But what would he do if he left? He didn't have any real passion for acting. He worked hard on his music to get where he was. Since he was a kid he knew he had a talent for it. Nobody on his block, in his neighborhood, at his schookl, could out freestyle him. Like most kids he was taken by the beat. Rap was it. It was in his blood and he was determined to make it. Baby Be Cool was not scheduled to come out for another year. Life had some serious thinking to do. And what about Saundra?

"I wanna give a shout out to my Willow Tree!" Willow was in a corner with a clipboard talking to Essence and in her nonchalant sexy way, waved at him and continued her conversation. "And I gotta show special love to Ball." Hannibal as usual sat at a table in the center of the club with very exotic women. They were like the art he collected. One was tall with long brown hair and looked a lot like Naomi Campbell, another was Mexican with short spiky hair with no makeup except her bright red lipstick to match her red dress and shoes and the red rose that rested hehind her ear so cool like she was going to smoke it. Hannibal had an expensive cigar in his mouth that was never lit and a glass of gin livette he never drank. It took Life years to notice that. Always the cigar and the drink, but he never saw him smoke or drink. He smiled, noded and pointed his one of a kind hand crafted wooden cant at him.

"Y'all remember the old spot that Hannibal had downtown before The Nikel moved over here?" The crowd clapped. "That was the spot. That's where I got my srart in the entertainment business. Not just me, but many comedians and actors working on television and in the movies right now." Life saluted Hannibal as the crowd started clapping and then got quiet as Hannibal spoke.

Hannibal slowly held up his drink and spoke in a very thinck West Indian accent. "A time to plant, and a time to rise, see?" A few seconds of silence passed and the crowd laughed and made gestures like Hannibal was crazy. Crazy and genius. Crazy like Prince was crazy. Crazy like Bob Marley, Malcolm X and Nat Turner. Yeah, he was carzy all right.

Outside of The Say was a cafe. That was Life's favorite spot and the chicken sandwich with spicy curly fries was his usual order. That room was simply called The Room, but it was not a simple room. None of the rooms in The Nikel were. The bar was a piece of art in and of itself. It was handcrafted wood and there were African masks on the top and front of the bar and there were also masks on each stool. Being in an environment like that made everyone feel wealthy. Most of the customers weren't financially rich but for the time they were in the club, they sure felt like it. That was Hannibal's mission.

The place was packed and folks sat comfortably crowded around the bar. Charlie Towns sat next to Life and ordered a vodka straight up. He was a fifty-two year old blues singer from Memphis who used to sing a lot at The Nikel, the one in Inglewood and the one downtown and would tear the house up. There would not be a dry eye in the room when he got off stage. Life loved the blues. It reminded him of Sunday mornings when his mother would make him dance with her after breakfast and his father would dance with his sisters. Then they would switch and his mother and father dance with each other and they would laugh when they kissed. Funny thing to kiss over the blues.

Charlie was one of the greats and well known back in Memphis. He had toured with the greatest back in the day. He started singing the blues professionally when he was only ten years old and stopped singing back in ninety-four when his wife and twin teenage daughters were killed by a drunk driver. They were on the 10 freeway one night and a car rear ended them. The car rolled off the freeway and blew up. He said that he just couldn't sing the blues anymore once he really had something to cry about. He still loved coming down to the club though. It gave him some happiness giving advice to the youngsters and being around good folks.

"What's up with your new cd?" He saw Life's shoulders and head slightly drop. "Hey, I didn't mean any harm. I'm just a curious fan." Charlie said. But those kinds of questions always made Life uncomfortable. As uncomfortable as it did hearing Charlie calling himself a fan of his.

"I'm in the studio." Which was true. Life just didn't go into the part about thr label being "unsatisfied" with all of his material. Like they would know good rap if they heard it. Good music didn't matter to them. Not to good ole Player Records. They cared about the numbers. The marketing. What kind of box they could fit him. They couldn't fit him in one. That was the problem.

"I'm waiting on your new stuff. You really got somethin' there."

"Thank you, Sir."

Saundra walked up to him and kissed him on the back on of his head. "Hey Baby, you looked good up there."

"Thank you, Baby." He whispered in her ear and put his arm around her waist. "Let's get out of here." She wanted to go to Solomon's, which was a late night spot in Hollywood that evryone went to after clubs. Life didn't want to go.

Solomon's was packed. Talk about Hollywood. On any given night you could run into any given movie or television or porn star or pro ball player, plastic surgeon or whatever type star you were looking for, or not looking for. The food was just ok and the menues were too long.

Life had to laugh at himself about how badly he always criticized Solomon's for beiing so Hollywood and he and Saundra hadn't been seated ten minutes and he had already signed two autographs for women who were clearly from out of town. That was refreshing though. People from L.A., Life noticed, were too jaded to ask for an autograph or picture or even give a handshake. They all had that no big deal attitude about things. Especially things that they considered a big deal.

Life was in Tower Records one evening and noticed Michael Jackon's Off the Wall album. He hadn't bought a record in years. As he was thinking about buying it for old times sake, who shold walk in but Michael Jackson himself! As much as he didn't want to do it, how do you not have Michael Jackson sign your Off the Wall record? He kept telling himself that it would realy be worth some money. That's what gave him the juice to go over to the mega star "Excuse me, Mr. Jackson."

When the waitress approached the table, Saundra ordered first. "Ummm, chicken quesadilla with a glass of white wine for me, please."

"A pastrami sandwich for me with a Heineken." And the model thin waitress was off.

"Admit it, Buster. You like it."

"Like what?"

"Folks asking you for autographs and wanting to take their picture with you and the waitress batting her eyes at you."

"She batted her eyes at me?" He really hadn't noticed that. Contrary to what Saundra thought, he was very slow at picking up on those things. "Maybe you're just seeng things. Are you jealous?"

"I'm not seeing things, Love. And no, I'm not jealous. I like it. People should be checking you out. Why do you think we're here?"

"Because you wanted some chicken quesadillas and a glass of white wine?"

"Chicken quesadillas that I couldn't make at home?"

That's right, Life remembered. Saundra's was the one woman's cooking he could write home about.

"Baby, if we left it up to you, you would go to your show and come straight home or go back to the hotel every night."

"Your man does what? He does his job and goes straight home to his woman? What are you still doing with him?"

"Ha, ha, okay. Of course I appreciate that. My concern regarding you is not that you will cheat on me. I mean, there's nothing I can do to stop you anyway. My concern is that you used to hang out before we got together. Besides, it's good for business for people to see you hangin' out. Fot the millionth time, people like you for more than your jokes, your acting, rappin'."

"You sayin' you don't think I'm funny?"

"Stop making jokes when I'm being serious with you. Of coruse you're funny. But being a rapper or comedian is not like being a French poet or a classical pianist where the fans adore how exclusive and untouchable you are. Black folks like to touch our stars, take pictures with them, eat next to them at Solomon's every now and then."

"You love me don't you, Baby."

"Not really, I just didn't feel like cooking tonight."

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Er Drama

1/28/12 at Kaiser hospital Baldwin Park
My mom is so ready to get out of this hospital. The food service representative came in to get her lunch and breakfast order. Yes breakfast as in tomorrow morning eating. As in they are planning on her being here tomorrow. 

She fainted yesterday and was brought to another hospital around two. I arrived an hour later. We stayed in that hospital until midnight and then she was moved to a hospital in Baldwin Park. She was brought by ambulance and I drove my car.  When I got here I saw like six or seven people outside the er entrance and it looked liked they were fighting. The mother and one of the men motioned for me to come inside the hospital I guess to get away from the main guy arguing. I found out quickly after I was inside that the fighting guy was "crazy" and was trying to start a fight with the fourteen year old son and nephew of the family involved. The guy just started picking on him for seemingly no reason. 

So here's where it gets really really weird and all Law and Order like. One of the guys in the family yelled "Oh shit!" Black and brown people know what a certain oh shit means before the rest of the sentence comes out. "Oh shit he gotta gun!" Yes crazy guy went to his car and and pulled out a gun out of his trunk. Some folks in the waiting room ran to other open rooms near and just outside the waiting room. I was one of those people. We had the same thought in mind, that he was gon come in the waiting room and start blastin'. 

So now I'm all tucked in a corner near the elevator thanking God that my cell phone worked. I was whispering to my sister praying I wouldn't get cut off. "This is crazy!" among other things. For a few seconds we braced ourselves for the bang bang. Nothing. Soon a nurse or security guard or someone came out of the waiting room and called as quietly as he could for us to come in the waiting room. When we got in the waiting room someone had called the police. Now here's where it gets even weirder if that's possible. The cops never showed up. Folks were passing around the phone and people were saying what they remembered about crazy. And yeah I know it's messed up to keep calling him crazy guy, but whatever. Someone remembered that he had a hospital band on and by his description one of the nurses or receptionists or whatever remembered his name and that he had just been released that day.

When I finally got back to see my mom I didn't want to tell her about all the drama up front. Hours later, after she was more settled, I told her. "0h," she said. "I heard the security guys saying something about that, but I thought they were talking about something that happened a while ago. Not tonight! Man, only you! I never get to see excitement like that."

Uh, yeah, um. No. 

Friday, January 27, 2012

THE NIKEL chapter 2

The melodic sound of the rain early that morning fell on the trees, the roof, against the window, made Obrey think of the rabbit. The crackling thunder brought the desire for his warm strong arms around her body and the smell of the empty merlot glass at the side of her bed made it even more tempting. Unlike the strong arms, the pink rabbit was always there. Always. Whether she was moody or not, shaved her legs and armpits and painted her nails or not, had done fifty sit ups the night before or not. It called from the cherry wood nightstand with three deep drawers and a lock that held her journals, secrets, bills, prayers, sketches, receipts, taxes, ugh taxes. She rolled over and pulled open the top drawer and wondered where her favorite vibrator could be, then remembered that she threw it away with the box of silk and cotton scarves Amad had given her. On birthday, Christmases, new years days, apology days, just because days.

She was angry and he would pay. She couldn't remember what the figtht was about that day. Or was it a fight? No. It wasn't a fight. Not a fight at all. It was a message. Clear, straight from the trees. Stop fucking with him. Of course messages from Spirit had never come so crass before and maybe this was not from above after all. Still, she would momentarily obey. Whe needed him? Red ones, blue ones, white ones. Not the white ones. The white ones too. They were her favorite of all the scarves he had given her because they reminded her of her mother. But they all had to go in the box and even the rabbit. Yes even the rabbit because this was serious and she needed to teach him a lesson. Obrey needed to show him that she didn't want him. Needed to show herself. But that was then. And on that night when she wasn't angry anymore, but missed him in her bed, wanted him there. Wanted to talk, wanted to not talk and make up. The rabbit was gone too.

The next morning she stood in front of the oval mirror in the bathroom and stared at the large praying hands freshly painted on the walls and black angel that looked down from the ceiling in the pepermint scented glow of the candle still burning from last night. "Help me, Lord." She gently sat down on the toilet and grabbed the sketch book leaning against the tub and flipped through some old sketches. "Too poofey. Too short. Too...something." She slammed the book shut. "Nothing." She lightly stepped over the yoga DVDs and went to the bedroom. "Yoga tomorrow. For sure tomorrow."

Dear Mom,
New Style Magazine is interviewing me here in the house today to be featured in their "Who's on the up and up?" section. I'm excited about it but I have magazines, newspapers and clothes spread everywhere, dishes from the last three days in the sink and dirty laundry out. Davis has been in New York for almost a week showing her work in a gallery. I miss her when she's gone.

I've been frantically working on gowns for a ball coming up soon and I'm still trying to come up with ideas for my own dress, that I'm nowhere with by the way. It's driving me crazy because this is suppposed to be the dress I should have the strongest vision for but I don't have anything. Nothing is right. On top of that I have a lot to do and can't seem to get it together. I'm thankful though because I remember praying to be this busy. Life is so...moment-to-moment. What else is it going to be, right? I feel every moment now. I can hear a clock ticking in my head. Tick. Tock. every moment, every second. Some days are better than others. I miss you so much. I haven't found my proper footing since you've been gone. It's been eight years and I'm not in the same space I was in when everything first happened, but I'm not all better yet either. When is that supposed to happen? Is it supposed to happen? A part of me feels like I need to miss you. I feel guilty on the days that I don't spend an hour or so in Granddaddy's old chair by the front window thinking about you. I wish you could be here with me. I want you to see my dreams manifesting. To see Sivad Designs living and growing.

Davis and I celebrated your birthday last week by driving the coast up to Oakland. You never stopped talking about how much you loved Oakland. Why didn't we ever live there? We saw a photograph of you in Daily Bread. Beverly had it enlarged, framed and put up in the shop. It looks so beautiful there. It was the one of you in the long white cotton skirt and t-shirt and bare feet drinking peppermint tea in the backyard. I miss you Mom. I miss you in the backyard. I still look back there and a part of me expects to see you lying on the hammock with a glass of merlot. I gotta get going. Love you.

As Obrey washed the dishes, she thought about how everything reminded her of her mother. The garbage disposal ran and she remember being ten years old and washing dishes in teh same kitchen. Though it was beightbavk then. Beige adn not lime with new cabinets. Beige adn did not have polished wooded floors or dishwasher and chrome plated stove and matching refrigerator. Back then they had to empty the rice from the pot into th trashcan with the metal cooking spoon. Clink! Clink! clink! Clink! her mother made even emptying the pot a life lesson.

"Baby, make every motion count. Don't just scrape the pot hoping that you get a grain of rice. Be intentional about it. Focus and get what you go after. Otherwise you're just making a lot of noise." Just what she felt like she was doing in ther life. Making a lot of noise. Each dress she sketched for her wedding. Clink! When she and Amad fought. Clink! Catching up on designs for clients. Clinkclink!

Obrey sat there for a moment, in the chair in her room that faced the window, onto the trees, onto the traffic, past the alley onto the park that she could barely see. She took a deep breath and forced herself to the washroom and took the clothes from the washing machine and put them into the dryer. She passed by Davis' room and noticed how neatly everything was arranged. She was always neat like that. Obrey and her mother used to tease and say that when Davis was there the house always looked and smelled like the maid had just left. Her canvases and other art supplies faced the window where she paints from and her clothes were all perfectly aligned in the closet. Obrey thought about how far away she was from that kind of order. Then she stopped as it came to her then that she needed to go ahead and take her walk becasue she could't see when she would fit it in that day.

Every day for the past three months she walked on the two mile trail she carved for herself near the house. Down the hill, east on Stocker, down to Leimert Park and back up the hill to home. Everyday. She usually went after her morning journaling and somethimes again in the evening with Davis. She and Amad had Jewel's talent show to attend at her school at six. Jewel had been talking about the talent show for weeks. She had written a poem that was a "secret" and was going to perform a dance. It usually took just under an hour to complete the walk and the folks from New Style weren't due until one thrity. She alredy had on her walking gear and dropped the clothes right there on teh floor, grabbed the keys and headed out the door.

Down the hill on Stocker, Mrs. Lin's twin seven year old daughters, dressed in pink dressed and checkered vans, looked like they had just made mud pies, were out playing with all those cats, as usual. Mrs. Lin was inside fussing. As usual.

"Hi, Miss Obrey."

"Good morning, girls."

"You don't know what the hell damn you doing! Fix fast and get out my house!" Mrs. Lin was at it with the cable guy. A car passed that blasted Sting's "How fragile we are" and Obrey walked faster to keep up with the music. Sting was one of her favorite singers years ago. She recognized how refreshingly odd it was to hear Sting's voice loud from a red convertible '64 in the neighborhood.

She picked up the pace and made it down to Leimert Park faster than she expected. She loved the shops and homes in that area. Some of the same people were still around since she and Davis were little girls. There was Omar selling his jewelry and Billy Higgins had a drum class for children, the same class she took when she was a child, and Mrs. Pete still had her sweet potato pie shop that never opened before ten and always closed by four.

"This neighborhood is just going to pits." According to her, it had been going to pits since before Obrey was born. That day there was a festival going on but Obrey couldn't tell what they were celebrating. Like it really mattered in Leimert Park. Degnan Blvd. was packed. There were poets on stage and the African dancers were callng in rain, or spirits or good luck, or something and the smell of curry chicken was coming from one of the vendor's tables.

"I wish I had known about the festival because maybe Davis and I could have had a table together selling clothes and art like we did in the good ole days." She said to herself out loud. Of course she was already behind and had an interview and Davis was in New York and they usually only made just enough money to cover the expenses for the booth rent. Next time, she thought. She received the flyer from the young rasta with the big eyes and long pretty lashes who collected dontions for the new Black African Unity private school. The same shcool and the same young boy she donated to every festival for the past three years. When the school was gong to built she had no ida and why they would send a child to do that was also beyond her. Everybody's got a hustle these days.

Apparently it was Carter G. Woodson's birthday. She had never heard of a Woodosn Festival before but...cool. "Black Booth Day" is what her mother used to call the festivals.

"All of them. Just a reason to sell stuff." Her mother was the first one in line dressed comfortable in her signature extra long flowing cotton skirts and tank tops smelling like peach oil. Everyone knew Andrea around there. Enough of this, she thought. Obrey had to make it back up the hill to stay on her time track.

The doorbell rang as she had finished her second cup of tea. She planned to seat everyone in the den and would make sure that every room visible from each seat was perfect. Frankincense lightly burned in the kitchen and the scent fromt the jasmine plants just outside the den windows drifted in sweetly. She practiced her smile in the downstairs bathroom mirror as she applied her makeup. Foundation just under the eyes, a little blush on top of the freckles on her cheeks, green eye shadow, mascara and a soft brown lip gloss. Her hair was finally dry from the shower and was wrapped all up in a white cotton scarf.

"Oh, I've always loved fashion. I designed my first dress when I was in the ninth grade. My grandmother had given me her sewing machine a few years earlier and I made it right here in this kitchen. She practiced answering questions they might ask and then the slight laugh with her head tilted back and eyes closed just a bit to show the nostalgia on her face as if she was Dianne Carroll and had a cigarette in her mouth with a long black filter stick. Daaaahling.

She had done these intervies before and they always seemed to be more about her personal life then they were about works she'd one. She answered the door wearing her own creation. A pair of soft peach genie type pants that rested comfortable and low on her hips. A silver belly chain and a cream backless top that tied behind the neck and at mid back. She had two silver ankle bracelets on her right ankle and rotated her position during the interview between having her legs crossed showing her bare feet and siting crosssed leggged on Granddaddy's big brown swing back chair. She tried not to fidget too much as they asked about the someone special in her life. She would seat them across fom her on the white couch so that they would get the wall of Davis's art in the photo they took of her. Everything was well laid out. The cut apples and soy cheese with strawberries, cantaloupe and grapes on the coffee table with the wine glasses and pomegranete juice and water.

"Hello there. Come on in."

Thursday, January 26, 2012

The Jungle story

There aint no way to make it sound pretty 'cause it aint pretty. It aint pretty. It aint ugly. It aint nothin' but a story to be told. That's what everything is. All everything is is something that happened. We always gotta make it something. Gotta make it good or bad, right or wrong. Gotta make it left or right. And for what? To fit feel good into our boxes to fit underneath our pillows so we can sleep through the night? That's what happened to me you know. Was so caught up in savin' face, protectin' his image. Protectin' mine. Lookin' good. Who I gotta look good for? It happened. That happened. We happened.

I had been caught up in my own bout of depression for some time back then. I don't know why. Don't nobody really know why they be depressed they just be like that that's all. That's all it was for me anyway. I was comfortable right there in all my sad too. Didn't even want nobody to try to get me out of it or nothin' like that. Just leave me right there in it. I kinda got some kinda attention 'cause of it too. Would be lyin' through my teeth if I told you I didn't like it either. I played it right you know. Not too sad so folks didn't want to be around me. Not too down folks look the other way when I come. Just enough sad that was just enough company to anybody's misery. You know?

I met him in The Village. He was playing the piano at The Joint. I guess it was about eight nine o'clock because it was dark out. He was inside with the lights off so it was real dark in that little place. Just dark enough for me to look good being sad in. I went inside and sat down in the back and listened to him play. He sang some too. I sure am a sucker for a sucker who can sing. And a sucker with a story who can play the piano and sing at the same time can almost sho nuff get next to me. You know? Well that's kinda what happened. Of course I could tell the short version right here real easy. He sang. We got together. Shacked up. Broke up. But then that's the short version and everybody say they like to make a long story short but they don't. It's just too much you gotta leave out. Too much.

He finished singing and someone sure enough came in and turned on the lights. Like it can't just be that way. Quiet. Still. It's always somebody don't see the good in something just the way it already is. Always somebody don't see that somebody might be havin' a good time and just gotta mess it up. Well that's kinda what happened. I know maybe I'm goin' too fast for you but you just gotta keep up. Just gotta keep up with the tellin'. The tellin' aint never the easy part. Guess the listenin' aint either. Well, somebody turned the lights on and I saw him. In the light. Clear as day. Just sittin' right there on that piano bench like he aint just made heaven sing. That's what it was to me. I didn't even feel like bein' sad right then. It was just about the music. I've heard folks say that but don't know that I've ever really experienced it. I'm an old woman now and he's long gone. Well, not so long. But he gone. He gone all right.

I was a young girl. No I wasn't. Wasn't no young girl at all. I was thrity-one. That aint so young. It's old enough to know. Old enough to look at a situation and make a choice. That's what I did. I made a choice. Aint no such thing as a good choice or bad one. Just a choice is all. He was old enough to be my daddy's big cousin and here he was comin' on to me. Comin' on to me like I was a woman his age. Remembering aint pretty. Remembering get you mad sometimes. Get you to feeling like you livin' it all over again. See how the mind work. I found out somethin' though. Only real reason to get mad at a somethin' is 'cause you think life and folks is supposed to fit the standards you make up. But they aint. Life is life and folks is folks and you you. See how aint none of them the same thing? But there I go. Goin' on and on with it.

Chapter 2

Folks has always thought I wasn't so smart. That was to them and what they thought. I know me better than any of 'em and I gots plenty smarts. I just aint never been the kind that gotta always be showin' 'em off all around all the time is all. It's somethin' to be sad about when you think about it. Folks thinkin' that you is a fool when you know good and well that you aint. My grandmamma raised me and she knew I wasn't no fool. She told me to go'n and play like one though 'cause I had the kinda smarts that folks wouldn't understand. Wouldn't understand if they really knew. So I got good at playin' not so smart. Too good I guess.

He told me that I was real real pretty and it wasn't like aint nobody told me that before 'cause they have. Just the way he said it. The way he look at me and keep lookin' at me even after he say it make me really believe it in a way I aint never really looked at it before. You ever have somebody tell you that you pretty and then you go to the nearest bafroom and look in the mirror to hurry up and see what they saw? Well that's what happened with me. He look at me like he know my kinda smart. Like he got eyes like only me and Grandmamma. But he didn't though. He didn't have eyes like us at all.

Chapter 3

I was livin' in the Jungle. Had me a little studio apartment. That's all I really needed. A space for me. A space for Koko. Just takin' care of us by myself. Just me by myself. My grandmamma been gone. At night sometime she think she aint gone though. I don't say nothin' or nothin' like that. But she gone.

My neighborhood wasn't no real real nice one if you lookin' for clean all the time and quiet at night. It just depend on what you lookin' for in a place to live I guess. It was sure all right to me. Had me a real nice little place to cook and eat and sell my dinner plates every night. A bed that was all mine all by myself. All mine by myself with Koko. A bafroom with a tub and a toilet and a shower and square diamonds on my kitchen floor. I really liked my diamonds. At least they was all mine.

He would come over mostly at night and eat my food and sleep in my bed with me. Then he started comin' over more than just at night. Was over there a whole lot. Sometimes I liked that and sometimes I did not. I really like my game shows you know? He didn't like game shows. He didn't like Country neither. He really didn't like Koko.

Chapter 4

The brothas around there always was real nice to me. They bought my dinners at night and some of them even tell me I'm pretty. Not the way he did so I rush and look in a mirror to see what they was lookin' at, but they tell me, and that's nice too in a world like this. To say that to somebody. Don't you think? Most of them over there hang out in fron of my boulding just there to sell them drugs. I never did mess with none of that. Never did do that. All of them listen real good to Country. I guess he the leader 'cause he sell the most drugs or 'cause he got the most guns or know the most cars that pull up. They all listen to him real good and he say don't mess with me and don't none of them ever do. Never did. Some folks got a way of messin' up a good thing though. You know?

Chapter 5

I found out that he got kicked out of his place 'cause he wasn't payin' the money every month. You gotta pay the money every every month or they will kick you out. They say I aint got no smarts, but I do knw that. He didn't even ask me, he just move in with me. He told me because I needed somebody to take real good care of me 'cause I was over there all by myself, and somebody like me don't need to be all by they self like I was. I pay the money every month though. Didn't nobody never kick me out 'cause I did't pay the money. He came and brought his shirts and pants and drums and shoes. Brought his TV and some books. I didn't ask for none of it. Not none of it. Besides I already got a TV and aint really no room for two. I told him aint no room for two TVs and he say we just gon' sell mine. I didn't wanna sell mine but I didn't say so. I guess that's the kinda smarts people talkin' 'bout I aint got.

He tried to sell the TV to Country downstairs but Country said no. To this day I don't know why my TV aint good enough for Country. He shol didn't take it though, and he told him don't never bring nothin' down there to him, and stay out his face. And if he knew what was really good for him, he would move out my place and let me be me. It was just a TV. I tried to tell Country later that he didn't have to get all mad about him tryin' to sell the TV. It's just because we didn't have no room for two. I guess Country aint have no room for two TVs neither. I guess I aint never gon be smart enough for that one to make no sense. Folks use to bring Country stuff all the time, all hours of the night. Some stuff I know for a fak he already had two of. TVs is different I guess.

You know it was on count of the TV we had our very first argument. You know I like my game shows. He say wasn't no game shows gon' be played on his TV 'cause it's other stuff going on in the world and even through I wasn't smart enough to understand I could at least try to get some smarts. He aim to teach me some smarts I guess. I was plenty smart, I tell him all the time. I know plenty what's going in the world, like what country shootin' what country. How much a house go for in this pat of the world. What the weather like over here and over there. Famous people that got married. A whole lot of things I know. I just love my game shows too. I didn't never see nothin' wrong with that. He tell me I can't watch it though. I shoulda known then.

Chapte 6

Koko has been with me since I was sixteen years old. I will say this, if anyone has ever really truly loved me besides my grandmamma then it would have to be Koko. It aint what folks say to you that let you know they love you. It's how much they let you be yourself that always tell it. That always give it right away. I didn't never have no pretendin' to do around her. Never. I wake up in the morning and open the blinds to see the sun. I like to sing. I know that I don't have the best singin' style but I do like to sing. Whatever it is that get you goin' good early in the day gotta be some kinda good to God. Gotta be. Koko like it too I think. She never said so different. He said so.

Koko got short, curly hair and real real dark chocolate skin. Like licorice. She got pink lips and purple eyes. She got magic eyes. She can see and she can hear and talk and understand and got plenty smarts like me, even though folks think she don't. But she do. She sure do. I made a pallet for her right at the front door 'cause that's where she like to sleep. Why anybody wanna sleep right at the crack of the front door I don't know. But that's her. I lay it out every night. Every night after folks finish buyin' dinners from me. After I eat. After he eat. One day he come in late after I alredy laid her pallet out and done gon' to bed myself. He told me don't ask him where he go late at night so I don't. I don't even wanna know. Just when he go I shol do watch my game shows. Gotta watch 'em on his TV though 'cause he sold mine. Even though Country didn't buy it, somebody did. So I guess it was an all right TV after all. I never did now how much money he got for it 'cause I dint' go with him to sell it and he only got medicine in exchange. I didn't even know he was sick.

He told me that night to keep Koko's pallet away from the front door or he would throw it out if he saw it there again. Seem like everybody ought to be able to pick out where they wanna sleep in they own house. Especially if I'm the one that pay the money every every month all by myself and he don't even help me and that's the whole reason he say he movin' in in the first place to help me out and he don't do that! But me, I try to keep the peace. I guess the smarts I aint got is the mean smarts that just don't wanna hurt nobody's feelings by tellin' them what I wanna say when I'm feelin' just a littl mad at 'em. I don't like nobody hurtin' my feelins so I guess it's only right. Folks shol do hurt 'em though. Hurt 'em all the time. Anyway, after that I just started makin' a space set up real comfortable for Koko in my closet so won't be no type a mess.

Chapter 7

Dear diary,
I'm real tired of him livin' here with me. He don't help me out none and he sick all the time now and when I wanna help him get better he just get mad. Mad all the time now seem like. Mad and sick, sick and mad. I tell him over and over he feel a little bit better if he just eat somethin'. Just a little bit of somethin' and lay down and get some rest. He hard headed though. Hard headed just because. He stay up late all night watchin' TV then go downstairs and sometimes knock on County door. County don't wanna be bothered with him though. Country don't like him. Country like a lotta people, but he don't like him. He say it's 'cause Country just jealous 'cause he get to live up here with me. He say Country kinda got a feelin' for me in a sweet way. I don't know, maybe he do. I mean he do buy my dinners every night and buy some for a whole buncha kids in the neighborhood too. Maybe Country is kinda sweet on me and just was always too scared to tell me 'cause he know I know he sellin' them drugs and I'm a good girl.

After I found out about Country bein' sweet on me I started lookin' kinda cute when he come at night to get his dinners. I never let on that I know. I just smile a lot. Put lip gloss on a lot. I kept it cool though 'cause I didn't want him to find out I was looking cute for Country.

Chapter 8

Dear diary,
Yesterday was my birthday and me and him went out on a date. We haven't been out on a date in a real long time. We went to a restaurant to eat. I didn't know the name of it. I ate meatloaf and he ordered some chicken and he ate it too. All of it. Maybe he'll put on some more wight now that it look like he back to eatin'. He told me that he was real real sorry that he haven't been takin good care of me like he said he would but he just needed to test me out to see if I coud really really handle myself 'cause he aint gon' be around forever. I asked him where he goin' he say home to be with the good Lord one of these days.

He told me he needed to talk to me about a big job he got comin' up out in Dallas. It's a real real big job and we gon be rich. He just gotta be trained real real good to do the job. He gotta leave soon so he don't miss no part of the teachin. He only gon' be gon' a week. He need money for the trainin' class and he gon' pay me back every single penny with the money from the job. He promised me we gon' be rich. I'm scared to give him the money for the trainin' 'cause it's the money for the apartment. All of the money for the apartment. I always pay all the money every month. Every month. He got mad when I told him I can' give him the money for the trainin' and I always get scared when he get mad. We caught the bus home from the restaurant and he didn't sit with me. He was cryin'. I saw him cryin'. I never saw that before ever. Right then I knew how much that trainin' meant to him. He cried the whole way home but he didn't want me to see him. I pretended that I didn't.

Chapter 9

The police came one night. A whole lotta police. They came the night before he was supposed to get back from Dallas. I was scared that night and I wished he was home with me. There were about twenty of them and they all came in the stair well screamin' and yellin' and all that. They went into county's place and took him out wearing his robe and house shoes. He was in the back seat of the police car and was sad sittin' back there. I could tell.

Just then it came to me that with Country gon' things would be a whole lot different for me. I mean folks had not been buyin' my dinners as much since he moved in and Country said that would happen. A lotta folks didn't like him, not just Country all by himself. Turns out he was mean to folks comin' round just to get my dinners. Country started buyin' more and more. Sometimes it was 'cause of Country I had all the money I needed to pay all the money every month and I didn't never have to get none from Koko. No no I didn't want them to take away my Country. I took to callin' him that. My Country. All of a sudden it came to me to tell the police that I needed Country to stay 'cause he was a real real good guy and even through he sold them drugs he didn't make nobody buy 'em or nothin' like that and let him know how good he been to me. Buyin' my dinners and all and lettin' all them other guys around there know not to be messin' with me. Yeah, I knew that if I talked to them they would understand and let country out that car and out them handcuffs.

I put my robe on and ran out fast as I could. "Don't take him! Don't take him!" I started bangin' on the windows. "Don't you take my Country!" Then one of the police grabbed my arms adn tell me to go get back n teh house before he take me away too I told him I don't wanna go away i just want Country to stay here. "Leave him here! Leave my Country here!"

I saw him just then, runnin' up the street. Runnin' real fast too. I didn't even know that he could run so fast. I guess he saw the police cars and all of that. He grabbed me from the police and held me right by my shoulders shakin' me and everything. "What you talkin' 'bout 'my Country'? That aint yo Country! You look like one fool. I'm gonna teach you something real good. You get inside that house right now!"

My Country was sittin' in the back of that car and heard him yellin' at me like that and then started screamin' himself. "Don't you touch her! Don't you put your hands on her you hear me!" But I don't know if he heard him or not 'cause he was still yellin' at me. Yellin' and draggin' me up to the apartment.

We got inside and he closed the door and threw me down on the floor. He stopped screamin' real sudden and stood real still. Just stopped right there in front of the TV. He stopped and stared at the game show on the TV. My game show. His TV. How did I know he was gon' come back a whole night early? I didn't that's how. He turned around and I saw a fire in his eyes I aint never seen in nobody before. And then there was me always tryin' to help a situation out when sometimes it aint no good to be brought to it. It just gotta play its own bad self out.

"Come on baby you just upset right now about something aint got nothin' to do with us. Lemmie make you some food and pour you a drink, ok?" Yeah, he had took to drinkin' more than usual round that time. "Lemmie gon' and start fixin' you a bath too." He didn't say nothin' so I got up slow and went into the kitchen. I went and hurried up and fixed him a dinner plate. Took some greens out the fridge and some corn and I had some bread from the day before. Didn't have no meat ready so I went and microwaved some frozen fish sticks and I hoped that would do. I put the plate down real quick to run into the bafroom and start fixin' his baf. I passed the living room and saw him just sittin' there in the big chair with the same fire in his eyes starin' off into space. I didn't know what was wrong with him but I was shol scared. The white part of his eyes was red and the black part of his eyes was real big. Real big. He was sittin' there rockin' back and forth. That wasn't even no rockin' chair he was in either. But there he was. Just rockin' rockin' rockin'.

"What is she doin' in here?!" I heard him screamin' from the chair. I was still in the kitchen fixin' his plate. I brought it into him real fast. I wanted to see what he was talkin' 'bout. "You heard me! What is she doin' in here?!"

Then my whole heart just stopped. There he was, holdin' Koko by the neck. Squeezin' real hard too. "Please don't hurt her. Please. I didn't know you was comin' back early and I had to give her just a little break from that closet. She don't like it in there. Besides, I was so lonely with you gon' I needed some kinda company."

"She aint no company. you stupid gal! She aint even real!"

"She real to me though. She like my very own baby." And what I say that for? He come chargin' at me so fast my own two feet froze. I sat the plate on the table so I wouldn't drop it to the floor, except I spilled his drink at his feet. The glass slipped right out of my hand before I even knew it and shattered on the wood floor. "I'm sorry, Baby! I'm real real sorry! I shol didn't mean to do it!"

Then he started laughin' real hard at me. Real hard laughin'. I don't like nobody laugin' at me but it was shol better than him chokin' me like I thought he was gon' do. Like he was doin' to Koko. So I start laughin' at me too. Laughin' and cleanin' up all the glass. He turned around and go into the bafroom I guess to take his baf. I heard him get in the tub talkin' loud. I don't know what he was sayin' but the words sound like laughin' words not killin' words so I don't pay it no mind. Then I heard the cats and I knew.

The cats in the alley under my window always let me know when she comin' 'fore she get here. She wasn't gon' like what she saw not one bit. I stopped cleanin' the floor and go over to the big chair and grab up Koko and just sit there. She a let me know what she want me to do. Maybe she don't want me to do nothin'.

I saw her come in shortly after I'm good in the chair. She come right through the door singin' just like he did when I was a little girl. She always did have a focus on her eyes. Even when she happy about somethin' there was always a focus there. She walk in and don't even look at me that night. She usually look at me and sit with me a minute then sometime she say somethin' and sometime she don't. But she always sit with me a minute. Not then. She go straight over to the window where he keep his drums and start playin' 'em real loud. Now me, I didn't even know she could play no African drums but there she was. She had on a long white skirt. A real long one with a white scarf on her head coverin' her long pretty gray hair. She sittin' there just a playin'. Bang a di bang a di bang a di bangdi bangbangbang! She just a goin'! Her head bobbin' back and forth and elbows movin' everhwhere and breast saggin' and swayin'. I don't know what it mean that she come with no shirt on but she always got her own way of doin' a thing.

"Gal, what you doin' in there? Did I tell you never to touch my drums?!" He yellin' from the tub. "You hear me gal, I know you do!"

Grandmamma look at me as if to say I bet not say a word. So I don't. I sit there with Koko. Now the bangin' just get louder and louder. And she got her focus right there on the door. She know he comin' through it any minute. Sure enough he come. Screamin' loud before he get in the room. He had a red towel wrapped around his waist and his eyes was te same color red. He get to the door and just stopped. She don't stop though. She goin' on and on. Louder and louder with her eyes focused right on his.

Right then his eyes aint red no more. They white. Scard white. He walkin' over to her like he aint scared but I know scared when I see it. Then his feet start movin' toward her real slow like he aint even controlin' 'em. She playin' hard and he walkin' slow. Then before I even know it he right there in front of her and she stop. Just stop. She get up real slow and I'm thinkin' it somethin' real dramitic gon' happen like in the movies but it don't. She look up at him and hold his face in her old hands. Just held his face. Seem like for a real long time.

Then she start laughin'. Laughin'. Laughin'! He so scared he don't know which to do so he start laughin' too. I know that kinda laugh. Then I see her hands start holdin' his face hard. Squeezin'. Squeezin' like he was doin' to Koko. She still laughin' hard. He aint laughin' no more. He cryin'. Ugly cryin'. Like the the kind when you know you done somethin' wrong and you think don't nobody know but then you remember that God see everything. Then blood is comin' out of his eyes where the tears should be. By now she lay him down on the floor and he still cryin'. Blood cryin' and lookin' up at the ceilin'. She take the scarf off of her head and her long pretty hair fall down over her shoulders. She give me the scarf and tell me to tie it around his head coverin' his eyes so I do like she tell me. I tied it real tight. Too tight 'cause I'm still kinda sore at him for squeezin' Koko and laughin' at me. I don't like folks laughin' at me.

I get back in my chair with Koko and Grandmamma start rubbin' her hands together real fast. I feel sorry a little bit for him now. He cryin' like he was that night on the bus. Like he really sorry for his whole life. Grandmamma stop rubbin' her hands and hold' em up high and start singin'. I never heard no song like that before and I don't know what language it was in. She was lookin' up at the ceilin' and so was I 'cause what was she lookin' at? But me and Koko just do what she do. Look up. I think Koko look down at him first so I did too. And there he was. All burnt completely up. Grandmamma blow the ashes all in one pile together and hold it in the cups of her hands.

I look down at my own clothes and see blood on my shoes. I thought it was from his tears but it wasn't. Koko was cryin' blood tears too. I look at Grandmamma but she was just lookin' in the mirror into her own eyes. Koko gettin' wetter and wetter by the minute so I take my stash out her stomach for it get wet too. When Grandmamma died she left me some money but I don't trust no banks and no banks don't trust me so I put it in Koko. If anybody can keep a good secret I know Koko can.

Grandmamma still lookin' into her own eyes and finally say "I'm goin' home."