In my opinion, the trouble started when daddy got shot and mama had to take over for a while. You woulda thought there was bout to be a funeral with everybody comin by to see her. They was all like “damn Ms. Davie, I’m sorry about your husband.” I think they was being nosy personally. Mama had to do the moving and take the orders now. Daddy kept cooking but he stayed in a bad mood. Not that work ever put him in a good mood, but at least before he got shot he would blaze until he was happy again. He said he wasn’t blazing no mo’ for a while because he needed to think. Said he wasn’t vigilant enough before, so he gotta make sure he get good and alert while everybody sleeping on him. He taking this being hurt shit real hard.
Salvatore, and yes I said Salvatore because this Tory thang ain’t sticking wit me, didn’t like everyone being all in mama’s face. He would sit on the porch like a watchdog mean mugging everybody. Daddy said that’s what he supposed to do but I was bored without him in the yard with me. I would shoot baskets for a while and then climb up the big tree and sit there. From up there I could see the nosy old lady from next door peeping through a crack in the wooden fence. I hate when people don’t mind they business. That’s one thing my brother and I agree on.
This slick looking guy came to the house. He was light-skinned with a gold crown in left side of his mouth. He was wearing one of the those fedoras like he was Ne-yo or something. His lips were too thin though and he had a goatee and a s-curl. Salvatore ran in the house asking mama, “Who dis?”
She knew him I guess because she smiled when she came to the door. Mama don’t smile at too many people. I never wondered why. I just figured that everybody didn’t deserve that. Salvatore looked uneasy so I crawled under the house so I could go sit in the hiding spot. Our hiding spot was under a trap door in the hallway closet of our house. It was convenient for listening when we weren’t supposed to be. I figure me and brother are part mom and dad’s business too. We need to know stuff whether they think we do or not.
I felt like a damn security guard. I sat on that porch day in and day out, watchin strange men and women come and go as they pleased. Our home had a revolving door. Some faces became all too familiar, like the face daddy had everyday as he slumped into depression. All I could do was wonder. Did he know who shot him? What happened? He never went into detail about it. He would mumble about being slept on and then he would read.
Shula played outside, all vibrant and nonchalant as if nothing ever happened. More often than not, she would be involuntarily supervised by an old lady that lived across the way who liked to spy on us through the fence. I used to yell at that woman tell her to leave my sister alone before I tell mama. She would start telling us about respect for our elders and then start a completely different conversation all of a sudden and then snap back and forget what we were talking bout. It messed up, but that would be the highlight of my day.
I knew we would always have to keep our guard up. Even quiet afternoons could be volatile. I wasn’t going to let what happened to my daddy happen to anybody in my family again.
A very suspicious man was walking up to the porch. I ran into the house, just inside the door, to ask mama who he was. Mama didn’t say anything about being on the lookout for anyone in particular, but when she saw him, she smiled a little too hard.
Daddy was asleep in the living room, so he obviously wasn’t expecting anyone. Why would mama have somebody over while he was sleeping, especially since he was a hard sleeper? If something happened, we’d be up shit creek. I sat on the porch getting real pissed off at the possible reasons.
I saw Shula climb down from the tree and walk around the side of the house. She was probably going to the hiding spot to see what was up. About twenty minutes must have gone by before I saw her again. She came running and sat down on the step beside me out of breath.She told me she heard mama talking to the man saying something about plans gone wrong and how daddy couldn’t find out. I ran into the house but stopped when I reached the kitchen. My mother was bent over the kitchen table and the man had his pants down. I guess it served me right for running in there like mama was really gonna answer a question about grown folks business but it poisoned my mind to see what I saw. My queen was a queen no longer. I began to wonder if my mama had always been a whore as I walked back out to the porch. The man had seen me and smiled like he had a winning lottery ticket. I couldn’t get that smile outta my head.
An Ashley Perkins and Rowdy Solomon Collaboration