I don’t know what was worse:  the loud prayers from Ms. Ida next door, my inability to get to sleep, or daddy pacing the floor at night mumbling to himself and that foul odor from him smoking again to ease his mind.  I was pissed for two reasons. One I couldn’t go and see my girl, Caroline, and two I couldn’t figure out a way to tell Mama where we saw Auntie Ray without seeming suspicious. Caroline could wait, I guess but the robbery issue was eating at me. I had to know if this guy Mama is fooling with had something to do with it.


In the morning, I did what I did everyday and sat on the porch. Next door, Lady Ida was sitting outside too.

“Come ‘ere boy,” she said.

Her voice was raspy but stern. I reluctantly walked around the fence to see what she wanted.


“Raevaughn is up to no good. My nurse said she saw her across town where she stay with that flashy man that your mama seeing. Said Raevaughn slid him some money and was looking all around like she didn’t want nobody to see. Keep an eye on that one, you hear me?”

“Yes ma’am,” I said.


I walked hurriedly back into my yard, baffled. Lady Ida was just an old lady with a bad memory, right? I wanted to think that she heard her nurse say the name wrong, but this was too much of a coincidence. Auntie Ray really was consorting with the enemy. She supposed to be family!


And of course, while I was sitting there trying to put two and two together, up walks Auntie Ray swing her red hair. She was all smiles.


“Heyyy Tory, where yo mama at?”


She leaned down and kissed me on the cheek. She smelled like powder, Newports, and E&J.  As she stood up, her hair hit me the face. The traitor.


“She in the house,” I said and scowled.


She went in the house and I could hear Mama and her laughing like everything was just great. If only Mama knew.




Sometimes I wish I could worry about silly things like boys. I would’ve liked to get Roc’s number but I knew it was cause unnecessary issues at the moment. I couldn’t afford to be distracted, not now that the possibility of getting jacked had become very real. Besides, I don’t think Salvatore is ready for me to have a boyfriend especially not an older one. Still, sooner or later I wanted find out what kissing felt like.


I was sitting in my room when I heard Auntie Ray’s loud laughing. I walked to the edge of the stairs and tuned in. They were in kitchen I think.


“Tory is growing up to be so hostile,” said Auntie Ray.

“He has been a little edgy lately. He barely says anything to me. But then again he probably still scared to death by that stunt ya’ll pulled the other day,” Mama said.



I had to cover my mouth because there’s no way I heard that right.


“Rell wasn’t rough with them or nothing. The gun wasn’t even loaded,” said Auntie Ray.



I had heard enough, At least I knew the name of the man in the red Cadillac. I waited a few minutes and went downstairs. Mama was looking guilty but Auntie Red looked at me and held out her arms.


“Shula, come here! You getting to be so pretty. I gotta come around more. “


I wanted to walk past her so bad but I knew I had to hug her. I gave her a squeeze as she held my head against her sweaty cleavage.


“Ma where is Salvatore?”

“Outside on the porch. Go out there with him.”

“Imma tell him to walk with me to the basketball court.”

“Okay. Bye.”


My mom was never really all that nice to me anyway so it usually didn’t bother me when she was rude. Today I barely made out the door before mumbling “Bitch” under my breath. I needed to know just what the hell was going on. What kind of game was this?


Me and Salvatore had to figure out how to be a step ahead. We needed somewhere to talk. The basketball court wouldn’t do. We had to go to Caroline’s house. It would be a long walk but nobody here knew her or her family. My brother wouldn’t object of course since she was kinda his boo even if she did have a boyfriend.

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